Joining a new company can be intimidating, even for the most experienced professionals. And for most freshers and recruits, a new job might also begin with a mandatory probation period.

The term 'Probation Period' might sound frightening or confusing for many, but probation periods are a good way of judging whether one is a good fit for a company and vice versa. Here is a quick guide to help you understand probation periods and how to survive them.

What is the meaning of probation period?

Probation period means the “trial period” that you serve as a new employee in an organization. It lets both the employee and the employer get to know each other better before the organization can offer him/her a regular or permanent position.

How long does a probation period last?

The duration of a probation period varies across businesses and industries. Usually, they can last anywhere between 3 months to a year.

What happens during a probation period?

In the probation period, the employer or manager will evaluate whether a recruit is capable of the work and responsibilities that he/she is given. They might also judge how well the person fits in with other employees, responds to authority, and behaves in the workplace.

On the other hand, the new employee can also use his/her probation period to find out if he/she is comfortable handling the job responsibilities. This is also a good time for the employee to figure out other logistics such as commute time, working hours, physical space of the office, and decide if it is the right job for him/her.

At the end of the probation period, if things are unsatisfactory, the company may terminate the employee’s contract, or the employee may decide to leave the company for better alternatives.

Do you get paid during the probation period?

Employees working under probation are eligible for a salary. However, it may be less than the salary of a permanent employee and may not come with any perks or benefits.

Related: View indepth data on company salaries.

Government jobs often have fixed salaries, according to the pay grades for workers on probation. However, the private sector makes no such promises. It is best to confirm your probation period salary and discuss benefits like health insurance, free transport, maternity leave, etc. during the hiring process.

In case you are allowed to continue as a permanent employee, it might be useful to learn how to negotiate your salary and ask for a raise if you think it is justified.

Why should you complete your probation period?

Let us take a look at some of the important reasons to complete your probation period.

1. To make an informed decision

Probation periods may seem difficult, but it is important to stick around and weigh all the pros and cons of the job carefully. If you get impatient, you might make a rash decision to leave early, and as a result, let go of a great opportunity.

2. To learn and develop skills

The probation period is a great time to pick up or polish your skills while learning the nuts and bolts of the industry you are a part of. In this process, you might also understand better how the company functions, discover new interest areas, and find out how you can add to the existing setup.

3. To demonstrate skills and strengths

Probation periods are the right time to show the best of one’s abilities and willingness to work for the organization. Meeting deadlines, handing workloads, being a responsive and responsible colleague and employee – are all strengths that can tell your employer that you are qualified for the job and can continue beyond the probation period.

4. To attain the benefits of a full-time job

While you do take home a paycheck during the probation period, it does not come with the perks and benefits of a permanent job. Continuing beyond the probation period means that you become eligible for a higher salary, raises, promotions, and benefits like health insurance. Moreover, you may be taken more seriously after your probation and no longer treated as a temporary employee or fresher in the office.

5. For job security and long-term goals

Besides monetary benefits, a permanent job comes with greater job security. Completing the probation period may make you feel more satisfied and motivated, and inspire you to set more definite career goals and work towards them.

What is probation period extension?

As the term suggests, it is an extension of your probation period, beyond the date when it is supposed to end. The employer or manager may suggest or order a probation period to be extended for reasons such as,

  • when the given probation period is not enough to evaluate the employee’s performance,
  • assignments or projects which must be completed before a permanent post can be offered,
  • changes or inconsistencies in the employee’s work, which call for more observation time so that the employer can take a better decision, etc.

Ideally, extensions to probation periods should either be mentioned in the initial contract signed by the employee or ordered later with his/her consent.

How to pass your probation period successfully

If you remain focused and determined, passing a probation period is not difficult. Take a look at the following tips to sweep through your probation period.

1. Observe and learn

Your main objective during the probation period should be to absorb as much of the work experience as possible. Keep your eyes and ears open, and be keen to learn. Familiarise yourself with rules and regulations of the company, note other unspoken codes of conduct, and pay attention to what superiors and colleagues say.

2. Keep a healthy and positive attitude

During the probation period, the employer may keep an eye on every move a recruit makes, which can make this time stressful for him/her. But that should not discourage or disappoint you. It is necessary to keep in mind the bigger picture and why the probation period matters. Remind yourself that, at the end of the day, you are the biggest beneficiary of your success.

3. Give it your best

The probation period is your first impression on your employer, and it is important to make it a good one too. It pays to show enthusiasm, take initiative, and stay professional. Even seemingly minor actions like reaching office on time, dressing in sharp formals, meeting deadlines, staying organised, and being polite to everyone in the workplace adds up in your manager’s good books.

4. Connect with colleagues

A crucial step that some new employees underestimate is establishing a rapport with their co-workers and seniors. Socialising with colleagues and consulting superiors not only helps you build a network but also shows good interpersonal communication skills. However, take care not to participate in petty gossip that might lead you to a bad reputation.

5. Be open to feedback and criticism

Feedback lets your employer communicate his thoughts to you, and in return, lets you know what the company expects of you. It is a good idea to seek feedback and accept it gracefully. Use positive feedback as motivation to continue working hard, and negative feedback as an opportunity to improve on yourself and become a better professional in your field.

6. Keep track of your progress

To keep your learning curve rising upwards, be more proactive in working towards your ambitions. Maintain a planner for short-term and long-term goals you want to achieve in the probation period. It will keep the momentum, give you a feeling of accomplishment every time you tick something off your list, and make the probation period more fulfilling.

All the best!

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