• One in five employees have left a job during their probation period

  • 31 Jul 2017
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Strong onboarding, training and support are essential for talent retention, say recruiters

Around one in five employees (22 per cent) have left a job during or at the end of their probationary period, a survey seen exclusively by People Management has found.

The role ‘not being as expected’ was the most common reason given for quitting, cited by 43 per cent of respondents. This was followed by having found a better role (23 per cent), not liking the company’s culture (13 per cent) and not liking the boss (8 per cent).

The study, by CV-Library, also revealed that 12 per cent of people had been dismissed during a probation period, although almost half (44 per cent) of them agreed it was the right decision.

When asked why they were dismissed, the top reasons were poor performance (27 per cent), the company being unable to keep them on (22 per cent) or being the wrong fit for the company’s culture (20 per cent).

To avoid employees walking out during their probation period, Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at recruitment firm Robert Half UK, recommended organisations make sure employees are engaged, challenged and happy in their workplace.

“Ensuring new employees are provided with an onboarding plan and clear overview of what is expected of them in the role is essential,” he said. “The training and support organisations provide from day one sets the tone for the employee's tenure at a company and immediately makes him or her think it was a good choice to join a firm.

“Setting a good example, rewarding creativity, offering training and helping staff achieve a work-life balance are some ways in which employers can boost employee morale, and build relationships based on mutual respect.”

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, said HR teams should take responsibility for running onboarding processes and making sure new starters settle in well. “Induction sessions are the perfect opportunity to take new starters through what makes the company unique and a great place to work,” he added.

Biggins also encouraged HR professionals to check in with line managers regularly to see how new hires were getting on with their roles. 

The vast majority (86 per cent) of respondents to the CV-Library survey believed probation periods are a good idea, with 49 per cent saying they allow companies to ‘test the waters’ with the new employee, though the concept of a probation period has no legal basis. Just over half (56 per cent) thought that both employers and employees benefit equally from probationary periods.

As for those who do not believe probation periods are a good idea, a little under half (49 per cent) believe the time period is not long enough to monitor an employee’s contribution to the business and 39 per cent said it can be upsetting to an employee if they fail to pass their probation.

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  • A 20% failure rate suggests very strongly that a lot of HR recruitment processes are wrong or not working to match suited candidates with the actual work to be accomplished. Are organisations 'overselling', being deceitful or otherwise misrepresenting the vacancies these people are filling? If these people are getting to the end of their probationaries and then not being taken on, someone, somewhere (HR? line management?) is not being honest with the worker. The moment something is not right is the time to take stock, take action, help and intercede to make the desired changes - waiting to the end is like waiting for a cat to bark, surely.