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5 Things HR Should Do to Prepare for the New Year

Posted by Julia Quinn-Szcesuil on 1 Dec 2014

The holiday season is hectic for us all -- and human resources professionals are no exeception. But, as crazy as the end of the year can become, the New Year is an oportunity to look ahead and move forward. 

woman at work during celebratios

But, if you can find time to take a breath between open enrollment, holiday parties, evaluations and everything else that December brings, taking a second to look ahead at the New Year, and all the changes it will bring, will help you to hit the ground running after the holiday crush.  

If you're in HR, set yourself up for success in 2015 by ending 2014 on a high note. Here are five simple ideas to get you started. 

  1. Focus on Top Performers
    Just as many employers are setting new goals for the new year, so are employees. If one of your top performers isn't happy, her to-do list could include job hunting. To ward that off, stay connected. Ask what's working for them and what new opportunities would they like to have? What lifestyle benefits might they like to see offered, such as backup care or flex work options? Then, ask for ways you can help them do their job better or get closer to their goals.

    "One of the big issues we worry about is staying in touch with top performing employees," says Ken Pinnock, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management's ethics and corporate social responsibility and sustainability special expertise panel. "Rather than exit interviews, do 'stay interviews' to check in with them and see how they are doing.

    Learn Retention Strategies for Keeping Your Top Employees 

  2. Prep for Upcoming Policy Changes 
    Many new laws are passed at the end of the year and go into effect on January 1 or during the first few months of the year. So, somewhere between the holiday parties and open enrollment, try and find some time to get up to speed on any changes coming down the pike in the new year.

    "Lots of companies don't audit their own policies and procedures," says lawyer Dean Rocco, a partner with Wilson Elser, a full-service law firm with offices nationwide. "They might just be going along as usual, and they are violating the law without realizing it."

    Some laws are passed without much fanfare and can be easy to miss, but if they impact your company or your employees, you need to know about them. Periodically, check your state's Department of Labor website, where any updates should be listed. 

    Find out How to Invest in Company Culture Without Killing Your Bottom Line

  3. Enhance Your Relationship With the C-Suite
    Once the dust has cleared from holiday parties and vacations, January is a good time to connect and take a broad view of the year to come. Get on the calendar for an informal meeting with your company's top brass to assess the big picture, connect personally and make sure the departments are moving in the same direction.

     "Have a check-in meeting with the CFO, executive director or the president to see what are the key issues or priorities they have as they move through the year," suggests Pinnock. "This is not strategic planning. It is relationship building between HR and senior leaders." 

  4. Get Your Performance Management System in Order
    As you are going into the year, make sure your performance reviews -- whether they're filed electronically or informally on paper -- are done and the necessary documentation is in order. All it takes is one supervisor or manager who is lax on paperwork and you can have a group of personnel files that are missing months or even years of reviews, disciplinary actions or even salary increases.

    Every January, ask your managers to check all the personnel files for their group and follow up on whatever is missing. If you're lucky, this won't be more than a reminder because the paperwork is already being done correctly.

    Learn How a Personal Touch is the Key to Employee Engagement 

  5. Mingle, Mingle, Mingle
    This one sounds like a no-brainer, but you need to assess how often employees actually see your face. After all, some employees only interact with HR staff when there's a problem. 

    So take year-end and holiday activities as a chacne to connect informally with employees and make a New Year's resolution to be seen even more. While HR needs to be available and in the office when employees need help, talking to people face-to-face in their own space really helps human resources become a familiar and friendly face to the humans in your office. 

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