You’ve secured your role and you’re about to start and realise there’s a probationary period you have to complete… Why is this and what does it mean for you?

Businessmen shaking hands in cafe

Probationary period explained:

Most, if not all permanent roles will involve a probationary period of some sort. The length of probation will differ between companies and roles, but generally you will find most will last 3 – 6 months. This period of time allows your new employer to understand how you work and whether or not you’re completely suited to the role. It also allows you time to settle in to the role, with the help and support of your new team.

Probationary periods tend to be monitored not only by your line manager, but also by the HR team. There will usually be slightly different contractual obligations during this period, for example, your notice period is usually considerably shorter (likewise your employer will give less notice if they wish to terminate your contract), and it may be that you receive a pay-rise or your agreed salary on completion of the probation.

The benefits of a probationary period:

Whilst you may feel that your performance is under scrutiny, there are certainly advantages to you as an employee. It gives you the opportunity to suss out the role and decide whether or not it’s right for you. It gives you a slightly easier route to exit the company if you feel it’s not working. During this time, you should be offered extra help and support to help you properly settle into the role. Take advantage of all help and mentoring you’re given, as this will benefit you and help you move forwards within the position.

Making a good impression:

There are some very basic things you can do to help make a good impression on your new employer:

  • Be punctual
  • Familiarise yourself with systems, ways of working, company ethics etc.
  • Make an effort with your colleagues
  • Volunteer yourself for tasks and projects where possible
  • Maintain a fairly close relationship with your manager (if possible) and ask for regular performance reviews


A probationary review:

You should have a review scheduled in towards the end of your probationary period. This may involve your line manager and a member of the HR team. This is when you should find out if you’re staying with the company on a permanent basis. Your employer, may at this time, decide to extend your probationary period as they feel they need to see more from you. Don’t be alarmed, this often happens and is not necessarily a bad thing. This end-of-probation review can be an opportunity to discuss career development within the company and any achievements and personal developments you’ve made during your time on probation. It can also give you a forum to discuss any concerns or queries you may have about the role.

Failing your probationary period:

Unfortunately, this does happen. The probationary period allows your employer to dismiss you if you haven’t fulfilled the brief or met expectations, without legal reprisals (barring certain exceptions). Your employer must remain fair – it doesn’t give them a pass to do as they wish, you as an employee, still have certain rights, so there will be a good reason you haven’t passed your probation, although you may not necessarily agree with it.

Dealing with a failed probation:

Be honest, have you enjoyed working at the company? Did you give it 100%? Was the job as expected? Answering these questions may help you understand why you have failed. Remember, the probationary period is designed for both employer and employee to decide if the role is suitable.

Remember to treat the probationary period as a reason to develop and grow within your new role/company. Don’t spend the time on edge and terrified of making mistakes – you are only human! Most of all, enjoy your new role and good luck.


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