Yes, above a certain size, companies typically have some formal procedures. But typically those are a fig leaf.
In many labour markets, there's a legal 90-day probation or equivalent. You bet your boots some people get dismissed at 80 days. Or the job was contract-to-hire, and the contract doesn't "get renewed".
But on top of that, literally every company I've worked at or any of my friends have worked at (including lotsa startups, two of FAANG, and some in-betweens) will terminate when they want to terminate. In most non-European labour markets that I'm aware of, there's a penalty for doing so, and the company just pays that penalty and gets on with it.
Sometimes there's more security than that, I've heard (but not experienced). And sometimes the company puts in large effort to cultivate the underperforming employee first (had that happen to me once; they tried and I tried but it didn't work out). But the overwhelming majority of cases of my first-hand and second-hand experience, dleslie's summary is about the whole story:
> The real interview is always the work you do
Thus, probationary periods can be a time of training and growth for the new employee.
I suppose you do sort of feel a little stressed during the trial period but I've never seen anyone fail it and it applies at every company, so there's no escaping it anyway. When it was introduced some people got quite upset but I can't really say I think it's had a bad effect.
I guess from the companies perspective if they realize they made a grave mistake they can back out of the hire, but they are still very careful and rigorous in the hiring process just like always. It also allows the candidate to bail if they realize the company wasn't what it said it was. It goes both ways. Again, in practice it seems mostly harmless.
Perhaps the US wouldn't do so well with a similar policy maybe even just due to the crazy healthcare situation going on over there. I couldnt say.
I'm not sure what you mean by "it applies at every company". Getting hired and then fired a week later is virtually unheard of. This is not a fear I have, at all.
But if you told me it's probationary, that is totally a fear I'd have, I'd get paranoid, so I'd rather work somewhere else. You're basically telling me it's not a real offer in my eyes, and I should not expect stability.
> Again, in practice it seems mostly harmless.
It's extremely harmful in a place with poor labor protections that is the US, for reasons that I don't feel like expanding on and that you can educate yourself on if you wish.
Not everyone likes it or agrees with it, and I can only comment on the software industry here and not other industries but it's not the end of the world and the sky doesn't at all fall. When they introduced it a lot of people tried to make arguments like it would be abused etc and as far as I can tell there hasn't really been any drama. YMMV depending on country.