Why You Should Be Conducting Probation Review Meetings

Team Conducting Probation Review Meeting


Once a new employee has been with a company for a few weeks or months, it’s important to examine their performance and progress so far to see whether they are a good fit for the role. A probationary period is standard practice in just about every industry, and is often, but not always, followed by a probation review meeting once the employee has had the chance to settle into their role. 

End of probation reviews are an essential part of performance management, giving you an opportunity to check in with new employees and ensure that they are happy and engaged in their role. It also allows employees to address any of their own concerns early on, offering a non-confrontational opportunity to solve issues and improve employer-employee relationships. 

In this article, we’re going to explore what a probation review meeting is and why they’re important. We’ll also look at some of the most effective probation review questions to get the most out of the meeting.

What is a probation review meeting?

A probation review is a meeting between an employee and their manager or team leader at the end of their probationary period. It provides an opportunity for the employer to assess the employee’s performance and progress, and to address any concerns. The employer may then decide to offer them a permanent position, provide additional support, or extend the probation period.

Why are probation meetings important?

The probation review marks the end of a probationary period. Before choosing to extend the employee’s contract, it’s important to ensure that they are suitable for the role and a good fit within the company culture. The probation meeting gives the employer the chance to assess the employee’s performance and share feedback.

During their probation period, employees often don’t have the full rights and benefits of a permanent member of staff. This is to protect the company should the employer not be suitable, as well as allowing the employee to leave their contract without a notice period should they choose to leave before the end of the probation. At their probation review, the employee can raise any concerns they may have, and request additional clarification or support that they need.

The end of probation review is important to: 

  • Assess the employee’s performance during their probationary period 
  • Determine whether the employee is a good fit for the role 
  • Provide performance feedback to the employee
  • Discuss any concerns or the need for additional support
  • Ensure that the employee is happy in their role
  • Decide whether to extend the employee’s contract

Probation review meetings & UK law

End of probation reviews aren’t a legal requirement in the UK, and you don’t need to carry them out to comply with employment legislation. However, probation review meetings are an essential part of the recruitment process to ensure that both parties are happy. 

You can include performance benchmarks in an employee’s contract that must be met before you extend their contract. In most cases, employees who are still in their probationary period can be let go or quit without the standard notice period, as long as this is outlined in their contract. They are often ineligible for sick or holiday pay during this time.

8 questions to ask during a probation review meeting

Rather than simply marking the end of the probation period and the start of their official employment, a probation review should be used for reflection and support. Taking the time to ask the right probation review questions will help both parties to get the most out of the meeting and, in turn, the employee’s professional engagement at the company. 

The focus of the probation review should be the employee, specifically their experiences and progress so far. Prompt them with questions but also give them plenty of time to discuss anything that they feel is important. Make sure to practise active listening and take notes that you can refer back to later. 

Here are eight examples of probation meeting questions that will add value to the conversation: 

  1. What have you enjoyed most about your role so far? 
  2. What would you say your roles and responsibilities are?
  3. How do you feel you are meeting the expectations of your role?
  4. What challenges have you faced during your probation, and how did you overcome them?
  5. Is there anything we can do to support you that we aren’t doing already?
  6. What do you hope to accomplish over the next six months?
  7. What are your long-term career goals, and how can we help you achieve them?
  8. Do you have any questions or concerns about your role or the company? 

While it’s useful to have a general structure for your company’s performance reviews, remember to also tailor each meeting to the industry and role in question. Those working in a customer service capacity and interacting with members of the public will have different responsibilities and expectations than office-based employees.  

You might also need to include specific questions or topics for certain individuals. For example, someone who works remotely will have a different experience working for you than someone who works on site. 

The end of probation review is also a time for the employee to ask you any questions they may have about their role, responsibilities, or the company as a whole. Make sure you’re prepared to answer their questions, and make a note of anything that you can’t respond to straight away. Follow up with any queries or concerns as soon as possible, either via email or as part of a short one-to-one meeting.

How to give feedback during a probation review meeting

A key outcome of the probation review process is to deliver clear, actionable feedback to the employee. It’s important to give specific examples of what to do or not do, rather than simply saying that they need to ‘improve’ or ‘try harder’.  

Even if you’re happy with their performance, specify what they are doing well so they know to keep doing it, and that their efforts are being recognised and appreciated. 

Some tips on giving good probation review feedback include: 

  • Be constructive: Focus on the positives and not the negatives.
  • Be specific: Offer concrete examples and actionable next steps.
  • Be collaborative: Ask for the employee’s input throughout the review.
  • Be respectful: Remember that you are talking to a person with feelings.

It’s always a good idea to refresh your feedback skills regularly. Remember that different people respond to feedback differently. Take a look at our guide to 360-degree feedback for a little more insight into what makes feedback constructive and valuable.

What follows an end of probation review?

The next steps following a probation review meeting will depend on the employee’s performance during their probationary period, as well as the company’s specific policies. There are three potential outcomes following an end of probation review: 

  • The employee passes their probation: If their performance meets or exceeds the requirements outlined in their job description, their contract may be extended, often to a permanent position. 
  • The probationary period is extended: If the employee’s performance doesn’t meet expectations but they have a good attitude and show potential, the employer may choose to extend the probationary period. This gives the employee a chance to take on board any feedback received in the probation review meeting and improve their performance. 
  • The employee fails their probation: If their performance or behaviour during the probation is unsatisfactory, the employee may be terminated. It’s usually the case that, within the terms of the contract, no notice period is required if termination happens during their probation.

Probation reviews are a crucial step of performance & development

Remember that performance management doesn’t end with the probation review meeting. Continuing to monitor and collaborate with your employees on how well they are performing their duties, as well as how they feel about their role and the company itself, is an important part of employee development.  

By checking in with your employees on a regular basis, you can create a supportive working environment with a positive culture. This helps to improve employee engagement, positivity and retention in the longer term. 

Keeping on top of performance management is a difficult task, particularly for small businesses where resources are limited. Performance management software is an essential tool that can help managers stay on top of this workload and keep employees on track.  

Many HR systems now include integrated tools to help managers and employees to stay on top of performance. From automating your performance review schedule to setting, viewing and amending performance goals, a digital platform helps both employers and employees to get more out of the performance review process. 

See how PeopleHR’s performance management software can support you and your employees, or sign up for a free trial and get access to our time-saving features today.

Gareth Moss
By Gareth Moss New Business Sales Team Leader

Gareth Moss is a New Business Sales Team Leader with nearly a decade of experience in the Access PeopleHR product. Gareth specialises in serving those within the SMB market, and his passion lies in helping businesses streamline their HR operations. Before transitioning into his current role, Gareth was a HR software product trainer, making him your ‘go to’ guy for all things PeopleHR.