To avoid at-will employment issues, watch your language: use “introductory period” rather than “probationary period,” says Margaret Fiester, operations manager of the Society of Human Resources Management’s Knowledge Center. Explain the system to the new employee, she says, and provide them with feedback throughout that time — not just at the end.
Credit: Matt Wood
United Cleaning & Restoration works with clients who are in distress about a disaster at their homes, so it has to provide fast 24-hour service — tempered with sympathy. “In a season with volatile weather, we had 2,000 claims in two months,” says Bill Leone, CEO of the Middlefield, Conn., company. “You have to work extended hours and keep a smile on your face and be compassionate.”
Restoration work can be intense, so United Cleaning & Restoration has a probationary period for new hires. “We know within 90 days if they can handle our industry and whether they are a good fit for our company, and if they are in the right job,” Leone says.
During those 90 days, the new hire works in several departments, including operations — answering phone calls, doing paperwork, and getting to know insurance adjustors and customers — and in the field. “They need to understand the business before they do their job,” Leone says, pointing out that “unless you can service the customer, you will not be successful.”
Managers meet monthly on an informal basis to discuss the employee’s learning pace and if he or she fits the culture. Leone says that new hires become permanent staff members about 75% to 80% of the time. At the end of 90 days, the employee’s manager meets with him or her to set goals for the rest of the year.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.