When shopping for products or services, we are usually protected by a risk-free money-back guarantee. It’s easy to return something and get every cent we paid for it if, for whatever reason, we are not satisfied with our purchase.
How we wish we could say the same when outsourcing remote talent. While the remote virtual workforce is a highly competitive one, there’s no risk-free guarantee, if and when you hire someone who’s unsatisfactory.
One of the most common mistakes among employers is hiring remote workers as regular employees from the get-go. Employers bring someone on board that doesn’t really fit their requirements yet the employee becomes so entrenched in their operations the employer finds it difficult to let the person go – even if the employee is not delivering quality work and not helping the company boost productivity.
The Bad Marriage Analogy
When this happens, an employer finds himself trapped, like people in a bad marriage. People in a bad marriage stay married for all the wrong reasons – their kids, their pets, their properties. While the relationship is clearly not healthy, they are already so entrenched in the relationship that they can’t find a way out.
It’s the same for employers who have become so deep into a relationship with an unfit employee. They keep them for the wrong reasons – either because they pity their employee, they feel a certain level of responsibility, or just the mere feeling of guilt of letting someone go…
Setting Up a Trial Period with Remote Workers
Putting your newly hired remote workers under a probationary status is an easy way to avoid these complications. This won’t be an issue because most local companies use this strategy as well, with some companies even having a 6-month probationary condition before regularizing their employees.
Specifically, what are the benefits of putting your newly hired remote workers under a 30-day trial period? We can think of at least 10 benefits you will want to know about.
- An Opportunity to Verify Their Skills
Remote workers are known for their honesty. However, in business, one cannot be too naïve and there is no such thing as too safe. While we and other employers out there have benefited from the services of highly talented remote workers, there are those who are on the other side of the fence and hired people who were not qualified for the jobs.
Here’s a fact – there’s a possibility that a remote employee would promise you the moon just to get the job. At face value, this applicant may appear to have the goods – an impressive resume, a good portfolio, and substantial years of work experience. However, can you absolutely be sure that this person is telling the truth in terms of their skills and competencies? There’s no other way for you to find out unless you hire him.
Putting all new hires under a probationary status will give you the chance to verify if they indeed have the skills that are required for the job. In cases where your employee does not meet the requirements during the probationary period, it’s easier to let them go. In short, this period will allow you to discover any disparity between the things that your employee said during the hiring process and his/her actual work.
- A Compatibility Test
When hiring someone from the Philippines, you should not only look at the core competencies or the technical skills of a prospective employee. For outsourcing to really work, an employer and his employees should also be compatible in terms of personality and working style. Even the best employee won’t perform well if he’s working for a boss that does not suit his personality.
At the same time, you won’t be able to maximize the talents and skills of an employee if there are fundamental differences between how you want things done and how they work.
Having a probationary period for your employees will allow you to gauge your compatibility with him or her. Using a more practical example, it’s like dating someone and finding out what your similarities and differences are before deciding whether to take the relationship to the next level.
- Employee Acclimation
All employees need to adjust to their new workplace or work environment. They need time to internalize your workplace culture, get used to your standard operating procedures, gauge what you’re like as a boss, and even get acquainted with their co-workers if you have a number of employees working with you.
Not everyone will acclimate well with your company’s culture. In fact, there are employees whose personality and working style is so off that they can cause tension in the team.
Having a probationary period for your new hires will allow them to get acclimated to your company. It will also give you that window to gauge if someone will fit seamlessly into your business or not. Of course, diversity is also a good thing, so it’s up to you to determine what level of divergence you’re going to accommodate.
- A Test of Your New Hires’ Staying Power
The virtual nature of outsourcing makes employers more vulnerable to employees going on AWOL. Oceans apart, you virtually have no way of chasing down your employees if they suddenly disappear. Likewise, the lack of physical interaction between remote employees and their employer somewhat make them feel less accountable and very detached.
It’s not uncommon to hear employers complaining about how their employees left them without even an email. On the other side of the fence, you have the employers who were able to find talented virtual remote employees who have been with them for years.
A probationary period is an opportunity for you to test your new employee’s staying power. Is he or she showing signs that he might disappear (i.e. not replying promptly to emails)? Or are they showing indications they will be with you for the long haul (i.e. showing initiative, asking for more tasks)? You can gauge all this during the 30-day trial period.
- Confirm That You Will Get What You Will Be Paying For
We’ve never encountered a remote employee who overcharged us for their services. However, there is a chance that you will hire someone who’s asking salary is not commensurate to the quality of work they are delivering. It’s not that they’re charging an above-average salary. It’s just that – for the lack of a better explanation – they don’t deserve the salary they’re asking for.
When you hire someone, ask them if they will agree to work for a slightly lower salary during their 30-day trial period. For example, if a content writer’s asking salary is 25,000 pesos per month for full-time work, ask them if they’ll work for 20,000 during their trial period. Most Remote workers are used to this set-up so it’s very likely that he or she will say yes.
This will enable you to determine whether a particular remote employee is deserving of the salary he or she is demanding.
- Puts Your New Hires into a Training-Oriented Mindset
When you hire remote workers, you must be aware that part of their workplace trait is to impress their employer. This is especially evident when they’re working for a foreigner.
Now, this can be a positive thing and a negative thing. It’s positive because they put their best foot forward and try to deliver perfect work even if they’re new to the job. The downside is, they can sometimes feel extremely pressured and when they make a mistake, they feel discouraged and demoralized. We have heard a lot of stories about how remote employees quit their work because they feel they are not good enough for the job, feeling embarrassed.
To prevent this from happening, you can use the probationary period as a training period for your employees. During this time, reiterate that they are allowed to make mistakes while learning the ins and outs of the job. This will also foster a constant learning mindset among your employees, which is important if you want to have a team of people who value constant skill improvement.
- Gives You A Window to Reassign an Employee to a New Role
Essentially, what this probation period gives you as an employer is an opportunity to observe. One of the things you must keep an eye out for is whether your new hires have other skills or competencies that they can contribute to your business.
Most of the time, you will likely hire the right person for the right job. However, you might encounter some surprises. A project manager may be more suitable as a content writer. A virtual assistant may have the skills needed for a customer service representative position. An SEO specialist may have a promising future as a content manager.
By putting your new hire under a probationary status, you are making room for yourself as an employer to unearth and discover other skills and talents, and if appropriate, assign your employees to new job roles that you think they will excel at.
- An Opportunity to Establish Mutual Trust
Working remotely won’t work if there’s no mutual trust. In fact, a huge percentage of failed remote work endeavors are due to the lack of trust between an employer and his or her remote team.
The probationary period is the perfect opportunity for you and your remote team to build a relationship based on credibility and trust. You can show them that you are dedicated to their professional growth. You can show them that you’re there to answer their questions without judging them. Even the simple things that establish trust – on-time weekly payments, a warm yet professional relationship – can be done during this probationary period. At the same time, your new hires can show you that they are trustworthy as well.
We cannot reiterate this enough. Without mutual trust, there can be no successful outsourcing and you must start building this from the very beginning.
- Saves You Time and Resources
There’s really no point keeping someone on your team if he or she is not delivering the goods. However, a lot of employers tend to hold on to a bad hire far too long. This results in wasted time and money in training without getting the results and the return on investment they want.
Putting your new employees under a 30-day trial period will put you in a trial-and-error mindset and put you in a more objective standpoint whether the time and money you’re investing in training an employee is worth it or just going down the drain.
- Allows You to End the Relationship Easier
This leads us to the last and probably the most blatantly stated benefit of putting someone on a probationary status at first. A lot of us sometimes feel bad about letting someone go. We feel a certain level of responsibility and commitment to our employees and we don’t like to make life harder on them.
However, when expectations are clearly set in the beginning, it is always easier to let go of someone if that employee already knows that you can terminate his or her employment if he or she does not meet the requirements by the end of the trial period. The terms are agreed upon, it’s objective, and while letting go of someone always carries with it an emotional discomfort, it will at least be more bearable.
At the end of the day, having a 30-day trial period for your remote employees is mutually beneficial, a sound business practice and something your new hires would definitely understand.