Probationary Performance Problems

Shawnee Love   •  
September 8, 2016

If you hire regularly, chances are you have had a new hire who is very likeable but maybe isn’t picking up the job quite as quickly as you expected.  There may be errors or efficiency concerns or the odd attendance issue which worry you somewhat, but not enough to cut line and let the person go. You are hopeful the new hire will get the hang of it with just a little more time; however, the clock is ticking towards the end of probationary period and you are wondering what you should do.

If you cut line now, you can fire with no notice (or pay in lieu) required.  But you have to start over with hiring and/or training a new person, may need a temp in the meantime, and there is no guarantee the next person won’t have similar issues – or be worse. On the other hand, if you keep the new hire past the 3 month probation, and the new hire doesn’t end up getting the hang of the job, you may still have to start the hiring process over having invested (aka wasted) that much more time in training.  You will also have to provide pay in lieu (or provide notice) in the event of a without cause termination, and you may have to unravel benefits and perks, involvement in activities, projects, etc., not to mention address the confusing messages associated with firing someone who passed probation not long ago.Young woman is going up to the line graph

These are two ends of the performance management spectrum, but within that spectrum are many potential steps and options that could be possible.  Here is where good HR support can assist you in making the right decision for your organization.

The one key point I want to clarify is that you can’t merely extend the probationary period and avoid having to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice if you terminate without cause after the initial 3 months is up.   That ship sails once the employee passes the 3 month or 90 day mark.  Perhaps another moral of this story is to hire slowly and carefully, ensuring you align the selection criteria with the job requirements as well as team and company fit needs.