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Global Work Glossary

Lost in a maze of global employment jargon? Find your way out with our handy collection of work and HR terminology

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Probationary Period

What is a Probationary Period?

A probationary period is a specific duration at the beginning of an employment relationship during which an employer evaluates an employee’s performance, suitability, and fit within the company culture. Typically ranging from three to six months, this period allows both the employer and the employee to assess whether the employment relationship should continue long-term. It is a critical time for onboarding, training, and performance assessments.

Purpose and Benefits

The main purpose of a probationary period is to give both parties time to determine if the employee is a good fit for the role and the company. For employers, it provides an opportunity to evaluate skills, work ethic, and adaptability to the workplace. For employees, it offers a chance to understand the job responsibilities and the company’s expectations clearly. This period can also serve as a time for employees to decide if the workplace aligns with their career goals and personal values.

Managing Expectations

During the probationary period, employers must provide clear objectives and regular feedback to the new employee. Setting realistic expectations and providing the necessary support and training can greatly enhance the success of this period. Regular performance reviews should be conducted to discuss achievements and areas for improvement, ensuring that the employee knows how they are performing and what is expected of them moving forward.

Implications of Completion or Termination

Upon completion of the probationary period, if both parties are satisfied, the employee typically continues into a more permanent role with the company. However, if either party feels the fit is not right, it can lead to the termination of employment. It’s important that such decisions are handled with professionalism and that the reasons for non-continuation are communicated clearly to the employee.

The probationary period is a foundational phase for building a successful long-term employment relationship. Managing it effectively is essential for aligning expectations, fostering professional growth, and ensuring mutual satisfaction in the employment arrangement.

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