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Karyn Gould
By
January 29, 2019

Recruiting in the post-trial-period world

Karyn Gould has some words of wisdom for employers having to adjust to the legislative changes on ‘trial periods’ which kick in on May 6th.

 

On the 6th of May 2019, a number of legislative changes are coming into effect that will have an impact on our current employment environment. Perhaps one of the most significant of these impacts is the use of a trial period, which after 6 May 2019, can only be utilised by employers of 20 or less employees. For these small employers, they still need to be vigilant in how they incorporate and practice the use of the trial period - ensuring they remain communicative with their employee throughout their 90 days, and providing the employee with the best possible opportunity to be successful.

 

For employers of greater than 20 people, where to from here? What do they need to be aware of? There are some simple steps, such as removing any references to a trial period from their employment agreements. But what needs to remain top-of-mind beyond this? The reality is that most employers weren’t using the trial period as freewheeling-cowboys who were prepared to shoot any stragglers. Instead, employers recognised that the fight for talent is real, and embracing a ‘hit-and-miss’ strategy to recruiting new team members has the very real potential to hurt existing employee confidence, their employer brand, and ultimately the bottom-line.

 

Most employers used trial periods as something of a lifeline, or a last resort. So – in some respects – very little may change, although I do predict more hesitation from employers, or a greater willingness to err on the side of caution with new hires. As an employer, ensuring that you are covering the basics well (e.g. using application forms, tailored reference checks, quality interviews or other qualifying tools) is a practical place to start.

 

Then, knowing you have that taken care of, here are a few (hopefully) encouraging words:

 

1. People are a risk. That may not sound very positive, but until we live in a world of clones, then we need to accept that everyone is unique. Each person brings something different with them, and while they are with us, they will experience life’s ups and downs – and even it’s middle-ground. If the person you hire today is exactly the same five years down the track, then something has gone terribly wrong. Life is a journey we are all learning on, and that journey is not 100 percent predictable or something we can control. If we can accept that things may not always work out in the way we expected, we can focus on the things that are in our control, like being effective communicators.

 

2. A great selection process is a two-way process – we can choose an applicant, and an applicant must also choose us. Technology provides us with many helpful tools to quickly identify criteria to short list candidates. They are great tools for employers, but they are unlikely to show a potential employee what it is like to work with you, your business, your people or your culture. Try to capture the balance between streamlining the selection timeline and spending quality time with the individual.

         By the time an individual is considering an offer, they should be able to describe:

  1. What is important to the organisation. Not just what is printed in a brochure, but what sits at the core of the organisation.
  2. What style of leadership they can expect from their direct manager, and
  3. What success looks like in the role, in real, measurable and understandable terms.

 

3. Assess wisely. It is always about quality not quantity. Figure out what is actually essential to someone being successful – whether an ability, behaviour or skill - and be consistent in how you assess it.  There are many ideal or ‘nice-to-have’ attributes, but you can often form a perspective of these from CVs and general interviews, and don’t need complicated assessments. If candidates are in a position where they can choose between multiple employers, the experience they have during the selection process might be their deciding factor – are your selection procedures and assessment practices representing who you are, what you are like to work for, and what you need?

 

4. Enjoy the process. If selection feels like a chore, we will treat it like a chore. It goes into our “have-to-do” pile – we get it done – but do we recognise that the employee experience starts from the moment that they make their first contact? We don’t build trust, capture loyalty and stoke motivation from the signing of a contract, or an employee’s arrival on their first day. Those factors are already in play, from before they even meet us face-to-face, and we build on it. What about the declined candidates, are they important? Yes, they are our potential brand ambassadors, advocates, customers, suppliers (in their next role) or stakeholders (particularly for internal candidates).  I can honestly say that I’m as guilty as anyone else when it comes to getting busy and failing to give the search for talent the best of my time – not just the time left over at the end of the day or squeezed into an interview slot. We have the ability to influence and engage others, people who have already committed time and energy to engage with us in an application process; and we have the opportunity to find someone who will make a difference to our every day, our team, and our success – they are worth being excited about.

 

5. Consider the culture of today AND tomorrow. Whatever got your organisation to the place it is, may not be what gets it to your desired future state. Look ahead to who you want to be, and keep an eye out for skills, talents and behaviours that will take you there.

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