By Katie Howells

The probation period is a normal part of any job role. There to ensure a good fit with both employee and employer, the structure insures against any miss-fitting relationships and means companies don’t waste money and resources on those who’ve fibbed during the interview process; something 81% of individuals have admitted to.

Whilst it’s clear that a probation period can hold positives for companies, some are extending the period to unrealistic lengths. Causing undue stress to new employees, these longer probation periods are becoming more and more common, and in London, where the talent pool is vast, workers are often reporting that they feel ‘on edge’.

It’s not surprising then that Joan Kingsley, who spent 25 years researching workplace psychology, has found that the fear of being fired ranks number one in employee’s worries. Something that she claims is severely stunting performance across the board.

In a fearful environment people stop being creative, it becomes more about surviving than thriving.

Unfortunately fear of being fired during the probation period isn’t completely unfounded, with 1 in 5 new employees failing to continue with further employment. However as there is no law determining a limit on how long a probation period can extend, these employees could be losing their jobs after 6 weeks or 6 months.

Alex Fleming, Managing Director of Spring Personnel, puts this down to a flaw within the hiring process, stating, “Companies need to be very thorough in their interview process as this number of people not passing their probation can be costly and impacts the existing team who have spent time inducting people.”

Seen as managing expectations and giving teams a chance to alter any issues, a probation period can ensure that new employees get the training they need. However with 22% of workers admitting to putting in more effort during their probation, companies may not be getting the whole picture.

Furthermore, there are fears that too long a period can leave new employees feeling adrift, separating them from the team as a whole by reducing their entitlement to perks and benefits afforded to other employees.

With every UK Company offering different views, probation periods leave us with a lot of questions; Should there be a limit? Should we be giving new employees access to benefits such as healthcare, no matter how long they’ve been with us? And is it time we left probation in the dark ages?

Join the debate and leave your comments below.

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