Plan-1As the New Year gets underway, this is the perfect time to do some planning for the various HR activities that need to occur throughout the year. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you get out your calendar to schedule the following HR activities and begin developing a plan for each of them. It’s very easy to get so caught up in day-to-day operations that these activities sneak up on you, and then are either delayed, not done well, or missed entirely.

Here’s a framework of common activities you can start with. You may have additional ones, based on your business.

Company goals. What are you planning to/need to accomplish this year? This is important in driving your planning and decisions for all HR activities. And also, in driving individual and team goals.

Workforce planning. To accomplish your goals, what are the skills, knowledge and number of employees you’ll need? Where are the gaps in your current workforce? What plans do you have in place for upskilling current employees to meet new demands of the business?

Budgeting for headcount. If you’ll be adding to your workforce this year, what’s your budget?

Job descriptions. Job descriptions should be reviewed at least once a year or and/or whenever a job position’s responsibilities change. As new positions are created job descriptions need to be created. Up-to-date, accurate, and detailed jobs descriptions as essential for effective hiring, employee development and performance management.

Employee Handbook. Your Employee Handbook should be thoroughly reviewed and updated annually, with periodic updates as new laws are implemented. When was the last time you updated your Handbook to reflect new company polices or employment laws?

Open enrollment. Even though this activity typically occurs in the fall, it’s important to plan for it well in advance, especially if you are thinking about changing brokers or adding or changing benefits.

Performance reviews. Waiting until the performance review date to manage performance is a disservice to employees and to the company. Make performance management an ongoing activity and then plan well in advance for the annual or semi-annual performance review.

Salary increases. What is your budget /criteria for salary increases? What surveys will you use to determine current market data?

Employee surveys. Giving employees the opportunity to provide feedback (and then doing something in response) is important in keeping employees engaged and motivated. Questions need to be thoughtfully prepared and relevant. You also need to consider how you will administer the survey (paper, online, focus groups…) and develop a plan for reviewing, communicating and implementing any changes resulting from the survey. Don’t conduct a survey unless you plan to do something with the information!

The most important thing is to be proactive rather than reactive. It’s much better to carve out some time now – as busy as you might be – to plan for these items ahead of time. Leaving it until the last minute or overlooking an activity altogether can be very costly in time, money and employee morale.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin