As you enter the fourth quarter of the year, there’s a lot that HR needs to get done. It’s not just about finishing one year but also preparing for the next. Don’t let anything slip through the cracks by following these 16 tips.
Stay till the end because we’ll provide you with a downloadable checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything.
1. Employee Evaluations and Performance Reviews
The last quarter of the year is your chance to look back and assess employee performance. This isn't just a box-ticking exercise; it’s an essential tool for team growth. You're not only identifying candidates for advancement or additional training and gathering valuable feedback that can shape HR policies for the coming year.
You should be conducting performance reviews quarterly (if not more often) but the end of the year or start of the next is a great time to perform a more in-depth review and discuss future growth opportunities or areas for improvement.
Tip: Use an all-in-one HR system like Fuse to schedule performance reviews, send reminders, and centralize the feedback. This will enable easy tracking of performance metrics over time, setting the stage for informed personnel decisions.
2. Budget Planning
The HR budget isn't just about salaries and benefits. It covers a range of line items, from recruitment costs to employee engagement programs, training modules, and possibly even office amenities that impact employee well-being.
Tip: Draft a detailed budget that aligns with the strategic goals for 2024. Use analytics from your HR software to forecast needs accurately and allocate resources efficiently.
3. Open Enrollment for Benefits
Open enrollment can be stressful for employees as they navigate complex decisions around health, dental, and retirement benefits. HR departments should simplify this process.
Tip: Use a system like Fuse to send out guides, FAQs, and comparison charts on benefit options. Organize informational webinars and ensure that all benefits-related materials are readily accessible.
4. Compliance Check
Failure to comply with employment laws can result in financial penalties and reputational damage. Ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest compliance requirements, including new acts or amendments passed during the year.
Tip: Schedule compliance audits and consult legal experts if needed. Update all employment contracts, benefits plans, and company handbooks accordingly. An all-in-one HR software like Fuse can help keep your organization compliant and aid in compliance reporting.
5. Talent Retention and Succession Planning
Retaining top talent and planning for future leadership are two sides of the same coin. You need to know who your indispensable team members are and who could step into those roles should the need arise.
Tip: Identify key talent during year-end reviews and start grooming them for leadership roles. Use an HR system to track their progress through targeted training programs.
6. Year-End Bonuses and Recognition
Employee morale often hinges on the feeling of being recognized and appreciated. Year-end bonuses and awards serve this purpose well but don't overlook the impact of simple, public recognition during team meetings or through company-wide emails.
Tip: Leverage platforms like Fuse to run an end-of-year recognition program, including peer-to-peer shoutouts and management-led accolades.
7. Prepare for 2024
Proactive planning for Q1 can give you a head start on the year. Early preparation is vital, whether it's a hiring drive, training programs, or launching a new employee wellness initiative.
Tip: Analyze past performance and forecast trends for the next year using analytics in Fuse. This will help you set actionable goals for Q1 2024.
8. Tax Document Preparations and Consent
Accurate and timely distribution of tax documents like W-2s and 1095s is a regulatory requirement and a mark of organizational efficiency. By allowing employees to receive these forms online, you are streamlining a time-consuming process that can be prone to errors.
Tip: Utilize Fuse's notification features to send instructions on how employees can opt for electronic tax documents while ensuring secure consent procedures and timely issuance.
9. Review and Update W-4 Forms
Towards the end of the year, remind employees to review and update their W-4 forms, especially if they have had any changes in their marital status or withholding allowances. This is critical for employees who want to maintain an exempt status for income tax withholding for the next year.
Tip: Utilize an all-in-one HR software system to automate reminders for W-4 updates, thus making the process more streamlined and ensuring compliance with tax regulations. Systems like Fuse even have an employee self-service portal that allows employees to make these updates themselves, easing the load on the HR team.
10. Special Payrolls and Adjustments
Closing the books on special payrolls like bonuses or salary adjustments is essential before the year ends. To remain compliant, these must be entered and processed with a check date by December 31.
Tip: Partner closely with the finance department to ensure these special payrolls are included in the year-end process. Utilize your HR software to make the adjustments effortlessly.
11. PTO Balances and Rollover Policies
With the year coming to a close, it’s also time to address unused PTO balances. Ensure your employees know the company's PTO rollover policies and remind them to use their accrued days accordingly.
Tip: Issue company-wide notifications via your HR software and update the system to reflect PTO balances and any rollover policy changes.
12. Upcoming Holidays and Labor Law Updates
As you enter the new year, updating the list of company holidays is necessary. Also, be sure to review and update labor law compliance posters, especially if there are changes like minimum wage increases.
Tip: Consult the Department of Labor's website for the latest labor law updates and integrate this information into company handbooks, posters, and digital resources.
13. Audits and Compliance Checks
Wrap up the year with a meticulous audit of employee W-2 information and reconciling various compliance forms. This ensures that there are no discrepancies that could cause issues down the line.
Tip: Leverage the auditing features of your HR software to automate parts of this process, ensuring that all forms match and that you are in complete compliance.
14. Policy Reviews for the New Year
The end of the year offers a natural breakpoint to revisit and revise company policies around issues like payroll, PTO, and employee benefits.
Tip: Engage key stakeholders in reviewing current policies, using feedback and data to inform any necessary updates for the upcoming year.
15. First Payroll of the New Year
Setting the right tone at the start of the year begins with the first payroll. Ensure that tax statuses and exemptions are updated, especially for employees who had claimed exemptions in the previous year but did not file a new W-4.
Tip: Your HR software should allow you to easily update these parameters, ensuring a smooth transition into the new year’s payroll activities.
16. Reassess Your HR Software: Q4 Is the Time to Buy
As you wrap up the year and take stock of how smoothly (or not) your HR processes have gone, it's the perfect moment to evaluate the software solutions you have in place.
- Are they up to the task?
- Do they integrate well with each other?
- Are they user-friendly and efficient?
Q4 offers a strategic advantage for making such an investment. As budgets are finalized for the next year, you can allocate funds for a software upgrade or switch. Plus, purchasing in Q4 often means you can take advantage of year-end discounts and promotions that software vendors may offer.
Why the New Year is a Fresh Start with New Software
Implementing new software at the beginning of the year aligns well with the natural business cycle. As you're closing out one year and starting a new one, introducing a new system allows you to:
- Train Employees: Use the quieter post-holiday period for training sessions.
- Data Migration: Migrate relevant data from the old system to the new one, ensuring a fresh start in the New Year.
- New Policies and Features: Roll out new HR policies with features offered in your new software.
- Tax Compliance: Ensure your new system is up-to-date with the latest tax codes and regulations right from the get-go.
Request demos and free trials in Q3 to make a well-informed decision in Q4. This will give you enough time for a smooth transition and implementation at the start of the new year.
By leveraging Q4 to reassess and potentially upgrade your HR software, you set your HR team and, by extension, your entire organization on a path for streamlined operations and success in the coming year.
Check It Off
We’ve compiled a helpful checklist you can access here. Make sure you don’t miss anything at the end of the year. If you’re considering a new HR software solution, see why Fuse might be what your team is missing going into the new year