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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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During the probationary period, the employer evaluates whether the recruit is capable of the work and responsibilities that they are given. They might also assess how well the person fits in with other employees, responds to authority, and behaves in the workplace.  

On the other hand, new employees can also use their probation period to determine whether they are comfortable handling the job responsibilities.

What is a probationary period?

A probationary period, often referred to as a trial or introductory period, represents the initial phase of employment during which the company assesses the employee’s performance and suitability for the role.

It’s a “trial period” served by a new employee in an organization. This period allows both the employee and the employer to understand each other better before making a long-term commitment.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

Who typically determines the length of a probationary period?

The length of the probationary period is typically determined by the employer. This period can vary depending on the role and the complexity of the position. For example, a company may have a 6-month probationary period for all new employees but a 12-month probationary period for employees who are promoted to management positions.  

In most cases, probationary periods range from 30 to 90 days, but they can extend up to six months or even a year in specific industries or for specialized positions. However, the period is agreed upon by both parties.  

Where is the probationary period typically outlined in an employment contract?

The probationary period is typically outlined in the employment contract under a section specifically dedicated to the "probationary period" or "trial period." In this section, details regarding the duration of the probationary period, any specific terms or conditions during this period, and the procedures for evaluation or termination may be specified.  

Both the employer and the employee must clearly understand the terms and conditions outlined in this section before signing the employment contract.

Are there any legal considerations when setting up the probationary period?

Yes, there are legal considerations when setting up the probationary period. Here are some the considerations:

  • Compliance with employment laws: Ensure that the probationary period complies with relevant employment laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. This includes laws governing minimum wage, working hours, overtime pay, anti-discrimination, and employee rights.
  • Contractual obligations: Review employment contracts to ensure that the terms and conditions of the probationary period are clearly outlined and legally enforceable. Be transparent about the duration of the probationary period, evaluation criteria, and any consequences of termination during this period.  
  • Equal treatment: Treat all employees fairly and consistently during the probationary period, regardless of their race, gender, age, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics. Avoid discriminatory practices or bias in evaluating employees' performance and suitability for the role.
  • Termination procedures: Clearly define the procedures for terminating employment during the probationary period, including notice requirements, severance pay (if applicable), and any other legal obligations. Ensure that terminations are conducted in accordance with applicable employment laws and company policies.
  • Documentation: Maintain accurate records of the probationary period, including performance evaluations, feedback discussions, and any disciplinary actions taken. This documentation can serve as evidence in case of disputes or legal challenges related to the probationary period or termination decisions.
  • Consultation with legal counsel: Seek advice from legal counsel or HR professionals familiar with employment laws in your jurisdiction to ensure compliance and mitigate legal risks associated with the probationary period. They can provide guidance on drafting employment contracts, navigating termination procedures, and addressing any legal concerns that may arise.

When does a probationary period usually start for a new employee?

The probationary period for a new employee typically starts from their first day of employment. In most cases, the probationary period is outlined in the employment contract or company policies, specifying the duration of the probationary period and any associated terms or conditions.

It's important for employers to clearly communicate the start date of the probationary period to the employee and provide them with all necessary information and support to help them succeed during this initial phase of employment.

What happens if an employee doesn’t pass their probationary period?

If an employee doesn't pass their probationary period, it typically means that they have not met the performance standards or expectations set by the employer during the probationary period. The specific consequences of not passing the probationary period can vary depending on company policies, employment contracts, and applicable laws.  Here are some common scenarios:

  • Termination of employment: In many cases, if an employee doesn't pass their probationary period, their employment may be terminated. This termination may occur with or without notice, depending on the terms outlined in the employment contract or company policies.
  • Severance pay: Depending on the jurisdiction and company policies, employees who are terminated during the probationary period may be entitled to receive severance pay or other termination benefits. This is typically outlined in the employment contract or required by employment laws.
  • Review of performance: In some cases, if an employee doesn't pass their probationary period, the employer may offer the opportunity for a performance review or feedback session to discuss areas for improvement and provide the employee with a chance to address any concerns before making a final decision on termination.
  • Documentation: Employers may document the reasons for the employee's termination during the probationary period, including performance issues or other relevant factors. This documentation can serve as a record in case of any disputes or legal challenges related to the termination.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

How does a probationary period benefit both the employer and the employee?

A probationary period can benefit both the employer and the employee in several ways:

For the employer:

  • Evaluation of skills and fit: This allows the employer to assess the employee's skills, capabilities, work ethic, and fit within the organization before making a long-term commitment. This helps ensure that the employee is suitable for the role and the company culture.

  • Risk mitigation: Hiring a new employee is an investment, and a probationary period provides a buffer to assess whether the investment will yield the desired results. If the employee doesn't meet expectations, termination during probation is often less complicated than after full employment.

  • Opportunity for training and improvement: During the probationary period, employers can provide necessary training and support to help employees improve and meet performance expectations. This can lead to a more skilled and productive workforce in the long run.

For the employee:

  • Evaluation of fit: Just as the employer assesses the employee, the probationary period allows the employee to evaluate whether the job and the organization are the right fit for their skills, career goals, and work preferences.

  • Feedback and development: During the probationary period, employees receive feedback that can help them understand expectations, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary adjustments to succeed in the role.

  • Job security: While probationary periods may seem daunting, they allow employees to demonstrate their abilities and secure long-term employment with the company. Successful completion of the probationary period often results in confirmation of employment status.

How can employers support employees during their probationary period?

Employers can support employees during their probationary period in several ways to ensure a smooth transition and increase the likelihood of success:

  • Clear expectations: Clearly communicate job responsibilities, performance expectations, and key performance indicators from the outset. Provide the employee with a written job description and performance objectives to guide their efforts during the probationary period.

  • Training and development: Offer comprehensive training and development opportunities to help the employee acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their role. Provide access to resources, mentorship programs, and on-the-job training to support their professional growth.

  • Regular feedback: Schedule regular check-ins or performance reviews to provide constructive feedback on the employee's progress and performance. Recognize their achievements and provide guidance on areas where improvement is needed. Encourage open communication and address any concerns or questions they may have.

  • Supportive environment: Foster a supportive and inclusive work environment where the employee feels comfortable asking questions, seeking assistance, and expressing their ideas. Encourage teamwork and collaboration among colleagues to help the employee integrate into the company culture.

  • Mentorship and guidance: Assign a mentor or buddy to the employee who can provide guidance, support, and advice during the probationary period. This mentor can help the employee navigate challenges, understand company policies, and acclimate to the workplace culture.

  • Flexibility: Recognize that the probationary period can be a period of adjustment for the employee and be flexible in accommodating their needs and preferences whenever possible. Offer flexibility in work hours, remote work options, or other arrangements to support their work-life balance.

  • Recognition and encouragement: Acknowledge the employee's efforts and achievements throughout the probationary period. Provide positive reinforcement and encouragement to boost their confidence and motivation. Celebrate milestones and successes to reinforce their sense of belonging and contribution to the team.

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