There are a variety of different viewpoints regarding the purpose of a probation period, but they ultimately seek the same outcome – an employee who is capable of doing the job/role.
“Employers use trial periods to address risk when hiring” (Houghton, 2012, p.iv).
“The probationary period can be valued as the most valid determinant of job performance and seen as the last step in the selection process…” (Privott, 1999, p.2).
Although viewed as a management process, the purpose of a probation period is two-fold:
- Management will use a probation period to evaluate an employee’s:
- Behaviour: Attitude and fit with the organisational culture.
- Performance: abilities, skills, and knowledge required for the job/role.
- Employees will use a probation period to evaluate if:
- They feel comfortable with the organisational culture;
- They like the job/role; and
- The job/role is what they thought it would be.
Some of these elements are not always easy to judge during an interview, and the wider recruitment and selection process in general.
Performance during a probation period should be linked to the job description, and the job description should reflect the job/role.
In terms of managing expectations, if the employee finds the job/role is not for them or the employer feels the employee is not suited to the job/role, a short notice period can facilitate a speedy end.
You can find further information on probation periods here.