Human Resources/Probation period.

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Question
Dear Mark

Is the probation period of Six months universal in labour laws?.

Thanks
Prashant

Answer
Hello Prashant,

Probationary periods are typical policy and/or practice in many industries and have been in existence for many years, almost customary.  The practice is not universal and varies from country to country as well as in specific country labor laws.

If labor laws in your company mandate a “probationary period” for new employees and/or newly promoted employees, you may have no alternative than to follow government law.  I am hoping this is not the case for the reasons and logic below.

The message these types of negative policies send to new employees or newly promoted employees is not one that is of any advantage to the company.  These policies are negative in nature… a probationary policy communicates that the company believes you may fail on your new job.

Similarly, the same applies to the posted or established and communicated “Rules of Conduct” which in essence say,

“We think every employee is capable of this type of poor behavior so we are reminding you we have no tolerance for this in the workplace (stealing, fighting, violations of the company’s values and ethics, etc.).  We believe all of you are capable of violating these rules so we are ‘sticking them in your face’ as a reminder of the behavior we think all of you may demonstrate at work”.

Companies really don’t need either of these negative policies.  A sound performance management process (PMP) will give you the same ability to move a poor performing employee to another job, or terminate employees who do not meet objectives, or otherwise behave in a way that violates the communicated values and ethics of the company.  You just need to make sure that supervisors who have direct reporting employees are trained in, understand, and vigorously administer objectives and the PMP process.  And, moving your managers, supervisors, and leaders to a point of expertise in managing their departments PMP is no small undertaking.
 
Whenever “policy” is established or is revised it is good for the company to always ask prior to creating or adjusting policy, “what message does this send to employees”.  Is the policy aligned with the established and communicated values and ethics of the company?  Does it support the workplace environment we want to establish and nourish?

You can imagine the value of communicating to new recruits …

“Many companies out there have probationary policies for new recruits or employees promoted to new jobs.  Our company believes this sends a message of mistrust and doubt and is counterproductive to the values, ethics and trust environment we cherish so much in our workplace.  We trust our employees first.”

A message like that used as a recruiting tool will open candidate’s eyes, send a message as to the type of very positive work environment they are entering, give them a basis for comparing your company to others who are competing for the same talent, and introduce the fact that values and ethics in your company are more than just a list of stuff communicated in the employee manual (handbook), in meetings, and other forms of company communications.

“Walking the Talk” is what makes these types of positive workplace practices “come alive”.

Good luck with this Prashant!

Regards,
Mark

Human Resources

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Mark Eichinger

Expertise

Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. My H.R. passions include Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Performance Management, Talent Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development, Compensation, Creating Space, etc.), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Questions I cannot answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.

Experience

I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. www.IHRCConline.com. Previously, I successfully held corporate executive and management leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources International and Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region, my responsibilities included, leading the regions H.R. team and processes, managing the H.R. relationship with the corporation, creating and leading the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managing the Asia Pacific key leader’s process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

Organizations
SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University. MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport. University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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