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Creating a Productive and Effective Probation Period Plan for New Hires

Written by: Harshini Elliott, Senior HR Partner

Welcome to a new era of workforce challenges! Embarking on a new employment journey? Get ready to experience a transformative probationary period that's more than just a trial phase. It's an opportunity to unleash the full potential of your new team member and ensure you're making the right choices for your business's future.

Why Probation Periods Matter

  • Evaluating Compatibility and Alignment: Probation periods are a powerful tool for evaluating if new hires align perfectly with your company's ethos and job demands. It's a two-way street where both you and your new team member explore a perfect professional match.

  • Tuning for Performance Excellence: The initial months are critical for optimising performance, laying the foundation for future success. Early identification of performance gaps allows for their conversion into opportunities for development and advancement.

Fostering Growth Through Structured Feedback

  • Milestone Check-ins: Scheduling regular feedback sessions at the 1, 3, and 5-month marks is crucial. These meetings are not mere formalities but pivotal moments for feedback, goal adjustment, and ensuring the new employee is progressing as expected.

  • Critical Decision Period: In the initial 6 months for full-time or part-time staff (or 12 months for small businesses with fewer than 15 employees), employees are ineligible to lodge an unfair dismissal claim should you decide to terminate their employment. Nonetheless, it's advised to conduct routine check-ins, documenting discussions around your concerns to mitigate the risk of other claims, such as a General Protection Claim.

The Essential HR Blueprint for an effective Probationary Period

  1. Setting Clear Expectations: From day one, lay out a clear roadmap of expectations, duties, and performance benchmarks. Having an up-to-date position description that includes key duties and responsibilities and attributes will assist you in this process. Further, setting clear Objectives with Key Results (OKR's) during their probation period will contribute to their understanding of what needs to be achieved and expected outcomes.

  2. Regular and Consistent Check-Ins: sticking to check-in schedules ensures continuous dialogue, fostering an environment of growth and open communication.

  3. Tailored Training and Support: We believe in empowering your new hire with the right tools, on the job and/or formal training, and mentorship, enhancing their journey towards becoming a valuable team player.

  4. Performance Evaluations: Conducting a more formal evaluation at the end of the probation period is about celebrating achievements and setting new goals.

  5. Continuous Feedback Loop: Establish an ongoing feedback mechanism, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement in real-time.

  6. Accurate Record Keeping:  Documenting all performance assessments and meetings ensures transparency and serves as a reference for future evaluations.

  7. Adaptive Flexibility: Life is unpredictable. That's why we advocate for a flexible approach, adapting to the unique needs of each situation.

  8. Transparent Decision-Making: Create a transparent, fair decision-making process for determining the future of your new hire post-probation. If they do not pass their probation and you terminate their employment, it should come as no surprise to the new starter. If it is not working out, the new employee should also be making a decision that this role is not for them.

  9. Open Communication: Communicate openly and transparently with the employee throughout the probationary period. Let them know where they stand in terms of their performance and what steps they can take to improve if needed.

  10. Upholding Fairness and Consistency: We champion a uniform, consistent and unbiased approach to probation across all levels, ensuring fairness and equity.

Elevate Your Probation Experience with Essential HR 

At Essential HR, we position ourselves as your allies in designing a probation period that resonates with excellence and effectiveness. Our experienced HR professionals are here to guide you, offering bespoke templates, training, and development strategies for impactful probation meetings.

Embark on this journey with us and transform your probation period into a powerful catalyst for long-term success and team harmony. Let's unlock the full potential of your team, together!

email: or call 0419 568 899 to speak to Justine Pepper, Managing Director


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