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The benefits of probation reviews

Why are probation reviews so important for all your new-starters?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Probation periods are a key part of the recruitment process that we’ve all probably encountered in our working lives at one time or another.

They’re an opportunity for employers to ascertain whether a new employee is the right fit for the organisation. But the importance of probation reviews goes beyond just ticking a few boxes. These reviews give managers a better understanding of where their employees are at in the learning process.

The importance of probationary reviews as part of onboarding

An organisation’s onboarding process plays a major role in how well new employees settle into the workplace and engage with their roles. Good onboarding ensures that new hires have access to the proper guidance, support, and learning resources to thrive in their role. Doing this in a timely manner helps to minimise the temporary loss in productivity that can indirectly make turnover even more expensive. While this is great for the employer, timely onboarding also enables new employees to work unimpeded during as much of their probationary period as possible, giving them more time to effectively prove themselves. 

A probationary review meeting is a good opportunity to get insight on the potential shortcomings of your onboarding process. If promising candidates keep struggling to get to grips with their workplace responsibilities or some other aspect of the workplace during probation, it can be a solid indicator that there’s an issue with the support they’re getting.

A probationary review meeting provides insight into your new employee’s experiences

Getting feedback about the quality of your onboarding is just one way you can benefit from learning about the employee’s experiences during a probationary review meeting. Employee experience encompasses everything, from their engagement to their wellbeing.

As much as probationary periods are your time for determining candidate suitability, they’re also time for new employees to ascertain how they feel about your organisation. After some time, they might decide that they don’t gel with the workplace culture. Or perhaps they realise the commute is too much. So while probation is the time when an organisation can end an employee’s contract without much fuss, it’s also a grace period for the employee to be able to quit without worrying about things like notice periods.

Or perhaps they’d love to keep working for your organisation, but this probationary time has helped them reconsider how they approach their working life. To stick with the example of a surprisingly difficult commute, an employee might seek to resolve this by working remotely some of the time, or by incorporating some other form of flexible work arrangement into their employment.

A probationary review meeting can lay the groundwork for personal development

While the point of a probationary review is to establish whether the candidate is suitable for their position, it should by no means end there. Even if someone makes the cut and gets welcomed as a fully-fledged member of your organisation, they may still have room to improve.

Probationary periods can give you a good understanding of a new employee’s strengths and weaknesses. The review meeting at the end is a great chance to discuss what your employee’s aims are, and to establish what skills they need to learn or improve in.

Encouraging continued education and personal development in the workplace helps you to engage with your employees and build up loyalty. So during probationary reviews, you should be looking to set achievable, mutually understood goals for your new employee’s personal development. And speaking of mutually understood goals…

A probationary review meeting lets you set shared expectations

At Weekly10, we often talk about setting expectations as part of onboarding or recruitment processes. But even though you’ll likely have discussed these expectations with the employee at some point before, it’s worth returning to them during the probationary review meeting. At this point, the employee will have some first-hand experience working for your organisation, and again, you’ll have a much better understanding of their individual strengths and weaknesses.

This means you’ll be in a much better position to set realistic goals, and employees will have a much better understanding of the demands of their role. Together, you’ll be able to reflect on their probationary period and what needs to happen going forward.

The importance of communicating over the probationary period

While this article is mainly about the end-of-probation review, the importance of effective two-way communication can’t be ignored. It’s to be expected that someone working in a new environment with its own particular rules and circumstances is going to make mistakes. But if those mistakes don’t get corrected, they could cost the employee their position, and by extension, cost you a good staff member.

Be sure to check in regularly with your probationary staff. The sooner you correct any mistakes or bad habits, the more time they’ll have to prove that they’re taking feedback into account and developing accordingly. For example, using our service, managers would be able to create custom check-ins for their probationary staff members. This means that, week on week, managers can monitor productivity and objective progress, while asking personalised questions that address that specific employee’s experiences.

With the average probationary period lasting three to six months, this means new staff members could have plenty of weekly check-ins to raise issues and help them to improve based on feedback. As well as increasing the likelihood that they’ll be able to meet their manager’s expectations, this also means that your employee should have a much clearer idea of their standing going into the review meeting than they would have otherwise.

To learn more about engaging new employees, or to find out how Weekly10’s services can benefit your business, check out the Weekly10 blog.

Weekly10 offers flexible review templates for any need, from probation to review and 1:1s to performance.

Head of People Science