The Government’s new a trial period gives small business owners a Valentines Day excuse to start recruiting

If you have been in business long enough, then at some stage you will have made a bad hire (and realised your mistake a month or so later). You are therefore forgiven for being a bit shy or nervous when it comes to hiring help. Well, fear no more, because the Government's new 90 day trial period for businesses with 19 or fewer employees means that you can take a gamble on a new employee without the fear of a dreaded personal grievance landing on your desk.

Of course, there are those that will say that the 90 day trial period will cause a "hire and fire" mentality amongst our SME business owners. But let's get real: why fire someone if they are doing a good job? No sensible business owner would adopt that as a long term business strategy since it would cause unnecessary upheaval, not to mention unnecessary additional training and recruitment costs. No, the 90 day trial period is a great idea, and I you don't believe me, then Valentines Day teaches us why.

Valentines Day: A time of hope and romance

But for many unattached "singletons" it is also a time of dread and fear.... fear of rejection. Valentines Day gives many singletons that extra courage to take the plunge and express their love for the one who, up until now, they have always admired from afar. But, what if she says an outright "no". Will the heart recover to fight another day?

Take for example, Algernon (or Algae to his "friends"), who was the shy retiring type. He didn't like to attract attention to himself and was a good worker at school. After a few blistering tackles on the rugby field by classmates for whom the early onset of puberty had given them a significant height and muscle advantage, Algernon had decided that he was more suited to exercises of an academic nature. He was, however, a hopeless romantic and the highlight of his day was chemistry - not because he had a love of the periodic table, but because he harbored a love for Sarah. When her long blonde hair bounced on the shoulders of her white lab coat, Algernon finally understood what chemistry was all about (even though his grades didn't reflect it).

Sarah was also a hopeless romantic

Sarah's good looks made her a very popular lady. She was never short of a date, but her dates were always the same: sports jocks whose idea of a romantic evening was going out with the boys and watching the footy. Sarah had grown a bit tired of these type of dates and was now looking for someone who was a hopeless romantic like her. Of course, Algernon didn't know that and for Sarah, Algernon hadn't even made it on to her radar.

Why Algernon wasn't in the running

Sarah had no problems with being the girlfriend of someone like Algernon if Algernon was going to be the man of her dreams. But, if she went on that first date and he turned out to be a complete nerd, then the problems could start. He could turn out to be a stalker. Alternatively, there would be the awkwardness of telling him that it wasn't going to work out, breaking his heart and seeing a man cry. With the jocks, this wasn't an issue: there are certainly worse things in life than receiving ongoing attention from six foot hunk and as far as the fear of letting them down goes, well they can take it - there will always be another girl around the corner to take her place. So for Sarah, Algernon simply wasn't worth the risk.

How the government's 90 trial period could have helped Algernon

But imagine if there was a rule of love which said that you could date someone for up to 90 days and if you found that it wasn't working out during that time, you could break up with them without any of the usual consequences: the "dumpee" wasn't allowed to feel hurt, upset or humiliated; as a result, the "dumper" wouldn't feel bad about breaking things off and the dumpee couldn't stalk the dumper in some perverted belief that he or she had been wronged. In fact, the whole dumping process would amount to nothing more than a polite goodbye and a peck on the cheek. All of a sudden Valentines Day would finally be the day when wall flowers would blossom.

Make 1 March a Valentines Day for your business

Good employees are a vital component of every successful business. But as we all know, getting rid of the wrong people can be problematical. Let's face it, we all make mistakes and hiring mistakes are no exception. Similarly, we have probably passed over some really good candidates in favour of the safe option or no option because we weren't sure how things were going to work out. The 90 day trial period gives small business owners a safety net. It will encourage business owners to take a gamble on someone when otherwise they would have second thoughts. Who knows, they may even find the employee of their dreams.

Unfortunately, for Algernon, there is no 90 day period in love so he will continue to admire Sarah from afar. However, the government's 90 day trial period for employees comes into force on 1 March so if you are a business owner that employs 19 or fewer staff make that a Valentines Day for your business and take a gamble on an employee like Algernon. And for the cynics that say that he trial period will create a hire and fire mentality that's like saying Valentines Day destroys romance. Get real and share the love.

Michael Smyth is the author of Employed But Not Engaged, How to break up with your employees and hold onto the ring. Available from

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