The prospect of terminating a poor-performing employee may keep you up at night, even if you follow the proper steps beforehand. You'll rest easier if you lay the groundwork to ensure your policy provides flexibility and clarity about your right to fire.
From a legal standpoint, employment at-will is critical. It typically means you can fire an employee at any time, for any reason or no reason. The employee can also quit at any time.
But if your written policy does not emphasize your employees' at-will status, problems can erupt. They must understand the nature of an at-will relationship—that their jobs are not contractually guaranteed and that you need not issue a series of warnings before firing them.
When hiring new workers, create an "orientation" period rather than labeling it a "probationary" period. "Probation" may confuse them into thinking that if they survive this initial phase, their employment is more secure.