Job Probations: Any Good?

An article by PM Editorial (People Management Magazine):

‘Personality clashes’ scupper career chances for at least one in 10 new hires

Nearly a fifth of new recruits (18 per cent) don’t pass their probation or have the period extended by their employer, research has found.

The survey of managers and employees, by recruiter Spring Personnel, showed that poor performance was the most commonly cited reason employees were let go (62 per cent), followed by absence (50 per cent) and poor punctuality (38 per cent).

But surprisingly, personality clashes were also frequently mentioned as a reason employees failed probation, with 12 per cent of respondents pointing to an argument as cause to refuse an ongoing contract.

The survey also found only one in five businesses (21 per cent) had never extend a worker’s probation period suggesting there is flexibility in probations as employers want to ensure they’ve made the right hiring decision.

Further survey findings revealed that almost half employees (49 per cent) feel insecure during their probation and 38 per cent feel anxious. More than a fifth (22 per cent) admitted they made more effort with their work during this trial period than when their role has been permanently confirmed.

Alex Fleming, managing director at Spring Personnel, said: “As more people are findings roles in the current economy, you still need to be thinking about your performance when you start the job. Getting a job may be the easy bit – the real challenge is passing your probation.

“Likewise, companies need to be very thorough in their interview process as this number of people not passing probation can be costly and impacts the existing team who have spent time inducting new people. It is in both the employer’s and the employee’s interest that the probationary period is a successful one so we always advise companies take a variety of measures, including training, appraisals, shadowing and progress reports.

“And whilst some personality clashes between managers and staff are inevitable, happily the vast majority of employees (72 per cent) felt their last probation period to be a positive experience.”

The survey was conducted on behalf of Spring Personnel by independent research firm Opinion Matters, which questioned 403 UK workers responsible for employees going through probationary periods at work and 1,498 UK adults who have held a permanent role within the last 12 months.


  • Probation is a management process with no legal basis in law.
  • The common time frame for probation periods is three months, although sometimes extended up to six months.
  • Employees should have an end of probation interview, either (preferably) formal or informal.
  • If poor performance, or anything else, is identified during the probation period, then it should be addressed at the time and not mentioned for the first time at an end of probation period interview (or equivalent).
  • Employees should be given a reasonable chance, and time frame, to improve performance.


PM Editorial. Almost One in Five Employees Fail Probation, Research Shows. People Management. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 05 June, 2014].


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