For job seekers, navigating the processes and protocols of securing employment can be nerve-racking, dehumanizing, and emotionally exhausting. By the time a job seeker has survived having their resume and cover letter vetted, portfolio dissected, and personality, work history, references, and professional skills and talents analyzed via a battery of phone interview and in-person interviews, they are utterly spent. There is nothing left. And if the job application process required a serpentine, mind-numbing online application, that sense of frustration is exponentially exacerbated.
So when a job seeker is offered a job, and then told they can’t receive health benefits or full, full-time status until probation ends after the first three months, they are left in a fog of confused disbelief – which may soon grow into anger or resentment. For most job seekers, especially passive job seekers, the thought of leaving a current job for another opportunity is a major life-changing event. It is simply not something one does without thoughtful consideration and a courageous sense of commitment to the move. Unfortunately, at many companies, that level of commitment isn’t reciprocal.
Sorry, Not Sorry
Perhaps no other words describe our cynical nation more than the popularity of the phrase “Sorry, not sorry.” In essence, it translates into “This is how I’m supposed to feel, but this is how I really feel.” And, btw, fuck you. This is what job seekers hear and experience after they have successfully navigated the gauntlet of interviewing rodeo events that comprise the modern hiring process only to be put on probation upon showing up for work on that first day. It’s demoralizing. It’s insulting. It’s the perfect way to begin a relationship that is doomed to fail.
In no other aspect of life would a reasonable person commit 100% to something or someone else and expect the other party not to do the same. After all, when you quit your job to take another job, you’re 100% in. The company that hires you should be too. If they aren’t, that company should reevaluate the efficacy of its hiring procedures and HR department, and not treat their newest employee like a set of knives they purchased at 3:00am while watching an infomercial half drunk. Probation, in essence, means “you’re hired, not hired.” At least not completely, and that is enough to create a seed of resentment that can grow into full-blown garden of indignation.
We are all taught that respect is a two-way street. Treat those as we would like to be treated. Though the Great Recession robbed regular people of their power to negotiate salaries or obtain a lifelong commitment from an employer, with the resurgent economy, that power is finally shifting back towards job seekers. This reverse of supply and demand means that employers can no longer exploit a overwhelming gluttony of job seekers be treating them with disrespect or, even worse, with poor compensation. Hopefully the days of jobseekers being ghosted by employers and recruiters are long gone.
Employers must remember that a new hire’s first days and weeks on the job represent the most impressionable timeframe for a human being the company hopes will be around for the long-term. It is simply counterintuitive and, well, foolish for employers to welcome a new employee to their new work family and culture by treating them as less than equal to everyone else. Sure, employers rationalize probation by explaining that it helps mitigate the negative consequences of a new hire who turns out to be a poor “fit” for the job or the company’s culture. But it is also difficult to overestimate the consequences of making a good “fit” feel slighted before they even meet their coworkers.