Your comprehensive guide to effectively managing probation periods in your workplace

Your comprehensive guide to effectively managing probation periods in your workplace

Probation periods serve as a crucial phase in the employment lifecycle, allowing Employers to assess the performance and suitability of new hires before making long-term commitments. Effectively managing probation periods is vital for both Employers and Employees to ensure a successful process.

In our article, we delve into the key aspects of managing probation periods, providing insights for you the Employer and your HR teams when navigating this phase with confidence.

Let’s take a look:



What is a probation period?

A probation period is typically used in the first ‘few’ months of employment, they last for a specified duration, commonly 3 to 6 months, during which time as an Employer you can assess your new Employee’s performance, adaptability, and overall fit within your company.

To ensure a smooth probationary process, as an Employer you should be aware of the three primary options available to you, these are:


  1. Confirmation of employment:

After a successful probation period, you should confirm the Employee’s permanent status within the company, you should do so in writing to them.

Key factors for consideration include job performance, conduct including adherence to your company policies, and of course a cultural fit.


  1. Extension of probation:

In cases where an Employee demonstrates potential but requires more time for development, as an Employer you can extend the probation period, this could be for a 3- or 6-month period depending on what has been agreed.

It is advisable that you use clear, concise communication and you should consider implementing a well-defined plan for improvement, any extension should highlight when the extension will be reviewed and the consequences of not attaining the required level.


  1. Termination of employment:

If your Employee fails to meet expectations during the probation period (or extension of it), termination may be necessary.

We advise that your decision should be based on objective assessments and documented instances of underperformance.



Do I need policies?

Having well-defined policies in place is crucial for managing probation periods effectively. Consider implementing the following policies within your company:

Probationary period policy, or a clause set out in the Contract of Employment:

  • you should clearly outline the duration and expectations during the probation period
  • as an Employer you specify the evaluation criteria and the process for feedback and performance reviews
  • you should identify clearly the consequences


Performance improvement plan (PIP):

  • as an Employer you should develop a structured PIP for employees at risk of termination.
  • you should, clearly communicate expectations, timelines, and support mechanisms for improvement


Communication protocol:

  • you should establish a transparent communication protocol during probation, ensuring regular check-ins and constructive feedback
  • as an Employer you should encourage open dialogue to address concerns and provide guidance


Why do policies matter?

Clear policies contribute to a fair and consistent probationary process. They set expectations for both you as an Employer and Employees, fostering a transparent and accountable work environment. Additionally, having well-documented policies can protect your company in case of legal disputes and promote a positive company culture.



Should I have continuous improvement strategies?

To enhance the management of probation periods, consider the following improvement strategies:


Training for Managers, buddies, and supervisors:

It goes without saying you should provide training to Managers, buddies and supervisors on effective performance evaluation and feedback. You should equip them with the skills needed to support Employees in reaching their full potential.


Regular feedback mechanisms:

As an Employer you should implement regular feedback sessions beyond formal evaluations, you should foster a culture of continuous improvement and development.


Employee development programs:

You could offer development programs to support Employees in enhancing their skills, that being said when newly appointed to a role unless you have specified, or agreed it is a training role, then the expectation is your Employee should have the requirements to fulfil the role upon commencement to it.

Any development programs should be aligned with your company goals and an individual’s career aspirations.


In conclusion

Effectively managing probation periods is a collaborative effort between Employers, HR teams, and Employees. By establishing clear policies, understanding the available options, and implementing continuous improvement strategies, as an Employer you can ensure a smooth process that benefits both parties. Prioritising communication, feedback, and development sets the foundation for a successful long-term employment relationship.


How can we help?

We are experts dealing with your HR, and Employment Law matters, we can assist you with any type of HR matter, should you need our support you can contact one of our team today and we can assist you; contact us on: 0333 0069489 or email us on: [email protected]




This article contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

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This document is intended to serve as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a HR and You Ltd Consultant or a member of our legal team.

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