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90 Day Probation Period: Pros and Cons & Best Practices – Free Template

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The initial three months of a new employee is a dynamic period where performance and the alignment of values and expectations are put to the test.

The 90 day probation period isn’t just a trial phase for the employee, it’s also a mechanism that ensures both the new hire and the organization are on the right track.

You can read our article to successfully handle your 90 day probationary period and learn about its best practices, benefits, downsides, and more! So, without further ado, let’s get started!

To streamline your 90 day probation period…

All you have to do is use Teamflect! Within your 90 day probation period, you can conduct employee onboarding surveys inside Microsoft Teams or send out automated employee onboarding tasks, and so much more!

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What is a 90 day probation period?

A 90 day probation period is like a phase where you and your new employee get to know each other. It’s a time when you’re figuring out if the employee is the right fit for the role and if they’re compatible with your company’s culture.

The probation period starts on the first day your new team member joins, and it lasts for 90 days. But, some companies might have slightly different timeframes, or they might not have a probation period at all.

During the 90-day probation period, your new hire is getting the hang of their role, and you’re checking if they meet the performance expectations.

Some organizations may delay providing benefits such as health insurance or pay less until the 90-day probation period ends. This period can also be called orientation, training, introductory period, or initiation. 

It’s important to establish some clear ground rules during the 90-day probation period. You can be criticized if the new hire feels undervalued or worse you can face legal consequences if you don’t handle the process properly.

Benefits of 90-day probation periods

benefits of 90 day probation period
Benefits of 90-Day Probation Periods.

1. Assessing Employee Fit

You can use 90 day periods to assess if your new employee is a good fit for the role or not. This timeframe allows you to evaluate employees’ performance, work ethic, and fit for the company culture.

Having this probationary period before making a long-term commitment provides new employees with a chance to evaluate the company and job.

In this test drive employees can decide if their new role aligns with their professional goals and whether they want to make a long-term commitment.

2. Improving Performance

A 90 day probation period can motivate new hires to perform better to prove themselves. When employees experience external pressure, they may aim to reach their full potential by putting in their best effort, especially if the employees can perform well under challenging conditions.

3. Managing Benefit Costs

When you implement a 90 day work probation, you can postpone providing benefits until the probation period ends. For example, eligibility for benefits such as paid time off and sick leave can be delayed until the probation ends.

4. Avoiding Immediate Contract Commitments

When you implement a 90 day probation period you can dismiss an employee if things aren’t working out. You can let an employee go if they’re not meeting your performance expectations during the 90-day work probation period. You will have more flexibility in these early days to make sure your new hire is a good match.

How to conduct probation reviews through Microsoft Teams?

While we’ve included a free template for you to download in this article, we just want to point out that using analog methods for any form of performance review is a bit of an outdated practice.

It increases the amount of work done on both the reviewee and the reviewer’s end, making both conducting and analyzing reviews a lot harder than it needs to be.

Conducting reviews over Microsoft Teams, one of the best communication and collaboration platforms out there both streamlines the process and keeps the whole thing in the flow of work. To do so, you might take advantage of Teamflect.

Step 1: Enter Teamflect’s Reviews Module

90 day probation period Teamflect homepage, review module
Teamflect homepage, review module.

The Teamflect dashboard is integrated directly into Microsoft Teams and it has the most comprehensive performance review module in the Microsoft Teams ecosystem.

With an extensive library of customizable performance review templates that can be sent out and completed without Leaving Microsoft Teams, it is by far the simplest solution.

Step 2: Choose Your Template

1 Teamflect Microsoft Teams classic
Teamflect review module template selection.

Once you’re inside the “Reviews” module, all you need to do is select “New Review”. This is where you select your desired performance review template.

Teamflect already has a preset template for 90 day probation reviews. You have the option to send it out with or without a self-review section included.

Once you select reviewers, set dates, and add notes, your 90 day probation reviews are ready to be sent out to employees!

Step 3: Fill Out The Template

90 day probation period: Teamflect review module template customization.
Teamflect review module template customization.

This is what a 90 day probation review template looks like inside Teamflect. Reviewers and reviewers can fill the template out without ever having to leave Microsoft Teams.

This template can be fully customized in the following areas:

  • Changing question types: Open-ended, Multiple Choice, Likert Scale, Rating, etc.
  • Integrating goal completion rates.
  • Integrating 360-degree feedback data.
  • Including an employee development plan.
  • Creating a custom evaluation criteria
  • Adding the 9-Box Talent Grid.

*Best Practice: Automate Your Probation Reviews

While we’ve shown you the manual way of sending out review templates from inside Teamflect, one of the best things you can do with probation reviews is to automate them.

This way you won’t have to keep track of when a probation review needs to be conducted with a new hire.

90 day probation period: Teamflect users have various automation scenarios available to them.
Teamflect users have various automation scenarios available to them.
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Teamflect users can customize review cycles.

When conducting period-based performance reviews such as probation reviews, it is always a great idea to automate your review cycles. Teamflect allows users to create custom automation scenarios for review cycles.

If you select the option to “Automate for employees who complete their first “X” days in the company, you can adjust the length of your probation period and when a review should be sent out automatically. This feature is also incredibly useful for other onboarding practices such as onboarding surveys.

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What are the downsides of 90-day probation periods? (If executed poorly)

1. Might discourage new hires from being fully committed

A 90-day work probation might leave new employees feeling uncertain about how committed they should be to their new role.

When new employees question job security, their enthusiasm and engagement can be negatively affected. This can lead to them not having the courage to take initiative or charge.

When new hires are not all in, they will not perform at their best and this will hinder talent development of a productive work relationship between them and their company.

2. Can be stressful for new hires

During a 90 day probation period, employees have to work under a magnifying glass, which will create stress for them. They will be pressured to prove themselves and their uncertain job status will cause a significant amount of anxiety.

They may also experience performance anxiety, so, they won’t be able to perform at their best and this situation will result in a cycle where the employee struggle to showcase their skills. If the perpetual condition of stress is allowed to continue, it may lead to low engagement and employee burnout.

3. Increased employee turnover rates

This may sound a bit counter-intuitive but probationary periods may end up leading to higher turnover rates! Let’s explain:

90 day probation period might end up increasing employee turnover rates because it may lead new employees to think that their jobs are unstable. As a consequence, they may leave the organization before the end of the 90 day probation period.

And when people start leaving it will negatively affect team morale and productivity. So, finding the right balance in assessing new hires and keeping your talent is crucial.

downsides of 90 day probation period
Downsides of 90-Day Probation Periods.

4. Means extra time for the management

Implementation of a 90 day probation period means management and HR teams will be spending extra hours and effort. To ensure that new employees meet expectations, management needs to closely monitor the progress of the new hires.

It will be even more difficult to monitor multiple new hires in larger organizations that implement a 90 day probation period.

As a result of the extra workload of evaluating new employees, HR teams or management might have to shift their attention from important assignments and responsibilities. And when they’re distracted, it will negatively affect productivity in these departments.

5. Legal issues if not handled properly

When a 90-day probation period is not handled properly, legal challenges can emerge. So, it’s important to have a clear and well-documented 90 day probationary period policy within this timeframe.

If your new hires think that they were treated unfairly and discriminated against, they might take legal action.

These legal issues can damage a company’s reputation and to reduce this risk, your company should implement its 90 day probation period with caution by ensuring fairness and following laws and regulations.

6. Can make it difficult to attract top talent

Implementing 90 day probation periods might make it hard for you to attract top talent since talented employees can be reluctant to commit to your company within such a lengthy timeframe of uncertainty.

As a result of this reluctance, your organization might struggle to find the best candidates in the competitive job market. Therefore, you should consider the necessity and extent of your probation period so you can mitigate the risks.

Best Practices to Follow During a 90-day Probation Period

For Managers

1. Build Positive Relationships

Your new team member might be nervous during the probation period. They might feel like their mistakes could be a deal-breaker for the company. So, you need to make them feel at home, engaged, and motivated.

An induction program will work wonders in helping them ease into their new workplace. Simple practices such as introducing them to their peers can keep their fear of loneliness at bay.

2. Set Goals and Expectations

From day one, you need to let your new team members know what’s expected of them. Hand them a job description and have a discussion about their responsibilities. You should keep it crystal clear and make sure they’re on the same page about the role.

Furthermore, you should talk about your organization’s mission and vision and show them how their role fits into the big picture.

You can also set short-term SMART goals and explain how you’ll measure their performance and success for each one. Keep in mind that, people learn at different speeds, so you might need to adjust your expectations as you go.

If there are any skills they need to pick up, think about training and support to assist them in meeting the standards. Be upfront about how you’ll handle issues and how often you’ll check in on their progress.

3. Schedule One-on-Ones Regularly

After your first meet-up, you can schedule regular one-on-one meetings to monitor the progress. This way, you can make sure your new employees are on the right track.

You should provide them with the job description and objectives. You can also prepare notes before the discussion to keep things on point.

Stick to a standard format so that you can treat all your new employees the same way, and writing down the meeting’s highlights will be extremely useful as a point of reference.

Don’t forget to follow up in writing after your meetings, and ask your new employee to sign off after you agree on certain actions because this will make it easier for you to prepare for their final probation review.

4. Use Employee Onboarding Software: Teamflect

As the best Microsoft Teams employee onboarding software, Teamflect will help you manage your 90 day probation periods smoothly. With its user-friendly dashboards, automation features, and custom review templates, Teamflect lets you conduct a tailored 90-day probation period for each employee.

By using Teamflect you will be able to:

Assign automated onboarding tasks: With Teamflect’s nifty automated onboarding tasks, you can make sure your new hires are always in the loop.

Support new employees with mentorship programs: You can create relationship labels, assign mentors and buddies, and set up weekly meet-ups.

Automate onboarding surveys: You can run surveys to measure the effectiveness of your 90-day probation periods. Moreover, you can turn your survey data into reports and fine-tune your probation process.

Bridge skill gaps: Teamflect is all about setting your new hires up for success. With Teamflect’s personalized development plans, they will be taking charge of their goals and tasks.

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5. Provide Feedback

In addition to the structured one-on-one meetings, you can set up more casual sessions for feedback sharing. These meetings are your chance to appreciate your new team members for their hard work and acknowledge their achievements.

Here’s the thing, if there are any issues, you should point them out and be specific about where you wish to see them improve. You should keep it straightforward and give some examples of the issues you’re talking about.

During the 90-day probation period for new hires it might not always be easy to understand constructive criticism. They might feel like you are attacking them but, it’s all part of the learning curve.

6. Address Issues

You need to be crystal clear about the changes you’re looking for. But, remember to use positive language to keep their spirits high. For instance, instead of saying “You failed” you can say, “You need to improve”.

You should also allow them to respond to your negative criticism. Your new employee might have a valid reason for things such as poor attendance, punctuality, or performance.

And don’t forget to provide them with coaching or formal training, especially if they have the right attitude.

Probation periods also give people the chance to figure out if they are satisfied with their job. A happy employee will be more productive, so let them know they can talk about how they’re feeling about their role.

They might not be too eager to bring up their concerns, so you need to establish rapport and show that you support them.

For New Hires

During a 90 day probation period, new hires need to focus on several actions so they can make the most of this initial phase in their new role:

  1. Learn and Adapt: As a new employee, you need to adapt to your new workplace by understanding your job responsibilities and company culture.
  2. Seek Clarity: You shouldn’t hesitate to ask if you have questions or need clarification on anything since it’s important to have a solid understanding of what is expected from you.
  3. Set Goals: You can also set SMART goals by working with your manager within your 90-day trial period.
  4. Communication: You should communicate with your manager and peers effectively and inform them about how far you have come since you started.
  5. Feedback: When you actively seek feedback on your performance, you can have an agile attitude and make the required adjustments.
  6. Performance: You should strive to exceed performance expectations by showing dedication, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to your job.
  7. Continuous Learning: Don’t be passive about your learning and development. You need to take advantage of additional training and skill-building opportunities to work on those areas for improvement.
  8. Be a Team Player: Establish rapport and build positive relationships with your fellow employees. You can achieve this by being a team player and collaborating effectively.

What happens after 90 day probation period?

After your probation period ends, if you are content with your team members’ performance you can tell them that they passed the period successfully.

If things don’t quite hit the mark, you can extend the probation. But, this is for special situations when you think that the new employee can improve within this extended period.

And lastly, you can kindly let them go if you think they can’t meet the performance expectations.

What is the optimal length for a probation period?

There is no law about how long a probationary period should be. But, you should be reasonable while determining the length of your probation period.

Usually, a probationary period doesn’t stretch beyond six months. If the employee is switching to a new position within the same company, it’s often around three months. Probation periods can be extended but this should be mentioned in the job contract.

Free 90 day probation review template!

90 day probation period template ss
Free 90-Day Probation Period Template.

When you use a 90 day probation period template you will have clarity and clear expectations. This template will facilitate your performance assessment, and help you in making informed decisions about an employee’s fit for a role.

Furthermore, this template can be helpful for talent development by allowing new hires to demonstrate their skills and adapt to your organization. Our 90 day probation period template will ultimately create a smoother onboarding experience for you and your new hires.

In A Nutshell

90 day probation periods can be useful when it comes to gauging if your new employees are a good fit for the position or not.

Although this period has certain downsides, it also provides you with important advantages when it comes to hiring the right employee.

The best way of having a 90 day probation period in your organization is through using Teamflect. As the best onboarding software in the Microsoft Teams ecosystem, Teamflect will streamline the initial three months of your new hires’ employment.

Written by Duygu Soysanli

Duygu is a content writer who enthusiastically writes useful content about the dynamic world of HR.

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