Our short guide to probationary periods

April 26, 2023


No matter how well someone comes across in an interview, or how vast their experience is, until they start working for you, you have no idea how it will all work out.

That’s why most companies offer a probationary period- It gives you time to make sure they’re right for the job and it gives the employee time to make sure it’s right for them too.

So what is a probationary period?

Put simply, it’s a trial period and during this time certain contractual obligations don’t apply. Namely, the notice period is shorter, which allows you to dismiss the employee more quickly, or the employee to quit and leave with minimal notice.

How long should it be?

Since there are no laws around probationary periods, there is no defined length of time. However, it is reasonable to make the period no longer than six months. Typically, you’d expect a period of between one and six months.

How can you make this process as simple as possible?

You want your new hire to pass their probationary period. Not least because you don’t want to start the recruitment process from the beginning again – the time… the expense… no thank you!

So, you need to give your new employee the best chance of passing their probation, how can you support them during this period?

Give them a clear job description.

You should have created this before you started the recruitment process, so this should be simple.

Set short term goals and objectives.

These should be things that can be worked on during the probationary period. They should be clear, measurable, and attainable.

Introduce the business.

Tell your new recruit everything they need to know about the company, including general business practices and procedures, and standards of attendance, as well as the repercussions of failing to meet these.

Outline your company culture.

Discuss your company’s core values, your mission, and your expectations of behaviour from all employees.

Plan the right training.

Most aspects of any role will need a degree of training, whether it’s by shadowing another employee or more formal, external training. Make sure all the necessary training is scheduled and completed.

Discuss reviews.

Explain how you’ll monitor and feedback on your new employee’s performance, as well as how and when reviews will take place.

We hope this helps, we’d love to hear from you if you need any support or guidance.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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