Probation Periods

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We’ve all seen those jeans in the advertisement, friends have said they’re amazing jeans, the reviews online say 5 stars, so you purchase said jeans, they’ve looked amazing for the first few weeks and then bam – you wash them; all of a sudden they’re a faded, saggy bummed mess, and because you didn’t follow the care instructions; you’ve got few options.

It’s not entirely your fault, but it’s also not the fault of the jeans either, as had you have read the care instructions before purchasing, you may have known that these particular jeans were not going to be the right fit for your washing habits.

Now you have saggy bummed jeans and not many options in being able to return them without it costing you money, not to mention the reputational issues you now face due to wearing said saggy bummed jeans to a recent dinner party. Oh, those Facebook photos are going to haunt you forever.

Now onto the next topic in our ‘cycle of prevention’ – probation periods…

Probation periods are an important part of an employee’s journey into any new role.

They exist to ensure both employer and employee have time to adjust to each other and to ensure that both are ‘the right fit’ for each other.

If you have seen our content on conscious recruitment, you know as an employer, it’s critical to hire someone who not only has the technical capability to do the prescribed role but that they also fit the culture of your organisation.

Trial-based learning environments usually consist of a period of 3-6 months. During this time, it’s valuable to involve current staff in the probation process. Seeking feedback from other trusted employees within the business about their new colleague helps to make everyone feel that they are building a team together and that this is embedded in the culture of the organisation.

If effective, probationary periods allow the employer to make a suitable decision on the appropriate hiring of an employee through formalised discussions and the giving and obtaining of feedback regarding the employee’s work, thus allowing a proper assessment.

So, what if you’re not sure after 3-6 months?

Well, if you’re asking this question at all after 3-6 months you should know your answer! But, if you remain unsure, under your employment contracts, if the employment conditions during the probationary period are the same as those applicable after the probationary period, you can extend the probationary period easily.

However, if some of these conditions do not remain the same during the probationary period, such as having a lesser notice period, the extension of the probationary period is only accessible if:

• The employee agrees to the extension; or
• The contract they signed at the start of their employment allows you to extend them.

So what’s the learning?

Well aside from the fact that no one wants pictures of them in saggy bummed jeans popping up on Facebook memories for years to come, we know that probation periods are important and offer extra assurance to both parties.

They allow employers time to see if the person they have hired can be a part of the organisation’s culture and the recruit time to learn and adapt to that culture beyond performing the technical capabilities of their role, which helps alleviate the potential fiscal and reputational issues of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour down the track, and ensures everyone is on the ‘same page’, right from the beginning.