Filling open positions in your company is a demanding job, requiring a great deal of time to research and create the job description, recruit and screen candidates, and put together an attractive offer for the best person for the job.
The hard work isn’t over when that great candidate says “yes.” A new employee’s first 90 days on the job are a crucial time for learning, acclimating and determining if there’s a good fit between the person and the position. Fortunately, there’s a lot your business can do to take full advantage of this important period of time.
Strategies for Success
Even the most talented employees will flounder if you simply throw them in the deep end of the pool with no resources or support. Here are some actions you can take to ensure your new hires thrive in your workplace beginning in their first 90-day introductory period on your payroll:
- Clarify expectations. Your new hires need to be clear on roles, responsibilities and what expectations management has for what they can accomplish and the time frame in which they should do it. You can’t expect employees to succeed if they don’t understand the goals.
- Give and take feedback. The introductory period is the time to offer more feedback rather than less. Frequently check in with new hires to see if they have any questions, what is and isn’t going well, and where there are opportunities to make adjustments. New employees bring a fresh perspective, so be sure to ask for their input on your operations.
- Supply training. Give your new hires all the help they need to succeed in their positions. This could take the form of formal training, one-on-one coaching, technology primers or crash courses on how to manage daily tasks in your particular office, such as how to use the timekeeping system or the phone system. What’s key is giving newbies the information they need to get into the daily flow of their work quickly and easily.
- Educate on culture. Your company’s culture and internal politics will provide the steepest part of your new hire’s learning curve, so it’s helpful to team new hires with trusted employees who can help navigate how things get done in your company.
Be candid with new employees about the personalities and history of your company, departments and individuals they’ll work with. This will help new hires avoid missteps while letting them develop the best strategies for dealing with any issues.
Choose Your Words Carefully
The most important step in the first 90 days of a new hire’s employment is to frame that time for them appropriately. From a legal standpoint, this time frame should be called an “introductory” period, not a “probationary” period.
On the surface, the two words seem synonymous, but they aren’t. Many court cases over the years – in California, New Jersey and other states – have had similar outcome: Probationary periods at the beginning of employment can create an implied contract for employees who successfully complete them, which jeopardizes the at-will nature of an employment arrangement.
Even though these were state cases without federal jurisdiction, companies have viewed them as a potential precedent and changed the wording to “introductory periods” to avoid the at-will issues.
It’s important to spell out that any applicable at-will status applies during the introductory period. Work closely with your legal counsel on the wording. The phrase “probationary period” should apply only to employees on a performance improvement or corrective action plan due to poor performance.
Do It Right, Reap the Rewards
Employers are responsible for making every new hire’s first 90 days a success. Your business can set a solid foundation by providing a helpful atmosphere and the tools with which employees can thrive. A strong start can set the stage for a long, productive partnership between your employees and organization.
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