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The Importance of Probation Periods

When you finally make that decision to hire someone onto your staff you feel excited and hopeful.  But people can put on a good front for that 15 to 30-minute interview so it’s important to have some insurance in place.  A probation period acts as an amount of time after a new employee is hired where they can be terminated if they are not performing to your business’ standards.  This can also set a standards and goals for your new hires.  Most restaurant franchises have probation periods located in their employee handbooks.   

Define the meaning

What is a probation period? Develop a checklist of dos and don’ts during the probation period.  For example, if you are caught on your phone continuously this breaks your probation.  Or if you aren’t preforming or have not improved in X amount of time then your employment will be reconsidered. Defining this for yourself, your management, and your employees is very important.  There should be no confusion on what this means.  This is your business, you know it better than anyone else so take that knowledge and apply it here. 

Decide on the time frame

There are some ways you can apply a probation period and you can tailor it to your business.  Decide on a time frame.  This could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.  Use you’re past experience to decide what one will work best for your business.  Don’t hesitate to use your more seasoned employees as a resource.  Sometimes your employees can provide better insight based on their experiences. Also decide on what time frame in which you expect your new hires to be reaching certain goals.  For example, learning the menu or learning to close by themselves. 

Develop a plan

Decide on how to proceed once you’ve knocked out all the details. Everyone learns at their own pace, which is important to keep in mind.  Throughout a new hire’s probation period check in with them to see how they are feeling.  It’s important that your new hires know they were hired because you saw something in them, it’s just good business. Also check in with management or employees to gage their progress. Your management and staff may be able to point out things that a new employee wouldn’t be aware of.  The restaurant industry is not a place where everyone can thrive.  Once you have developed a plan you need to find a place for it in your employee handbook or new hire paperwork.  By informing your new hires that there is a probation period, and having them sign, provides some insurance for your business. 


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