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Almost one in five workers (18%) have had their probation period extended or failed according to new research from Spring Personnel.

The research which surveyed both employees and managers nationwide found poor performance is the most common reason employers cite for failing new employees (62%).  Absence is also a common reason for failing a probation, accounting for half (50%) of all failures, and bad time-keeping accounted for four in ten failures (38%).

Surprisingly, personality clashes are common too: over one in ten managers (12%) cite falling out as cause to give someone the heave-ho.

The research also found only one in five businesses (21%) never extend a candidate’s probation period suggesting there is flexibility in probations.

The research also found:

  • For many of us probations are a time of anxiety. Almost half of us feel insecure (49%) during a probation and four in ten (38%) of us feel worried;
  • One in five of us (22%) put more effort into a job during a probation than we would once the job is secured;
  • According to 71% of employers, there are employees who fail the probation period at their companies. At 60% of companies, the failure rate is up to 10% of new employees.

How much are these figures down to poor hiring practices?

Our research revealed that many individuals fail probation as a result of their own behaviour during this period – rather than poor hiring practices – with half (50%) of individuals failing due to absences in work and over a third (38%) because of poor time-keeping. Our advice to candidates is to make sure these basic, but very important, qualities and attributes are upheld during a probation period to ensure an employee puts their best foot forward.

The research revealed that over a third (36%) of employers particularly dread having to tell an employee they have failed probation, and will therefore ensure they do their best to hire the best candidate for the job.

Is probation still seen as a relevant safety net for both companies and new starters?

According to our research, 96% of employers stated that they consider the probation period to be an integral part of new employee induction. We see it as a period of mutual benefit rather than a ‘safety net’, allowing the employer to up skill an employee and ensure they settle into the role, while at the same time permitting the employee to consider his or her suitability for the role.

The hiring process is costly and can be time consuming to find the right candidate so we always advise that companies take a variety of measures, including training, appraisals, shadowing and progress reports to ensure the probationary period is a successful one.

Article by Alex Fleming, managing director of Spring Personnel