It’s the beginning of the year, and if you are a payroll/HR professional, year-end processes might be the last thing on your mind right now. You might be tempted to unwind from the past few months of “crunch time,” enjoy your vanilla latte on the couch, and binge old Downton Abbey episodes. You may want to ignore the little voice of your ninth grade English teacher in the back of your mind that keeps whispering: “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”
However, if you are ready to think about the best ways to get in great shape for year-end – we’ve set out five top tips for staying on top of compliance and payroll requirements throughout the year.
When hindsight is 20/20, it is sometimes the best place to start for planning ahead for the new year. How did your year-end processes go last year? What could be improved? What do you want to repeat that worked well? Set out specific goals, deadlines, and delegate assignments to help you manage year-end.
A compliance “check-up” is probably not the most exciting activity on your to-do list. If you take time early in the year, however, to review your various payroll and HR policies, it will give you more time to focus on the numbers at year-end.
For example, when was the last time someone reviewed changes in the law against your company’s current employee handbooks and policies, or reviewed required employee notices and acknowledgements for accuracy and updates? If you don’t know, that may be a signal to check into this.
You can also consider changes in your workforce that may have happened since the previous year, such as employee turnover, status changes, compensation and scheduling changes, required form updates, or fresh employee sign-offs for various policies.
Will Canadian or U.S. tax laws change again? Will a new paid sick leave or family leave law be added somewhere? What will any new overtime or minimum wage requirements look like? We can never predict exactly which new laws or requirements will become effective. It can also be frustrating when new laws are changing, because agencies don’t always release required information far enough in advance for employers to prepare.
Despite this, one of the best ways to get ready for changing legal landscapes is to plan for the worst-case scenario (as best you can). Think about what steps you would need to take if a new requirement became effective this year or in early 2020. Proactively track the status of pending new legal requirements. You could even consider getting more involved by joining an industry association or providing comments to various agencies that have pending changes that may impact your workforce.
Whatever steps you decide to take in response to changing legal requirements, you will be ahead of the pack if you plan ahead.
There’s no doubt that year-end is a stressful time. You could reduce this stress by taking advantage of the technology solutions that will help reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and help reduce the burden of various compliance requirements.
HCM solutions that offer functionality such as continuous real-time calculations, custom reporting, and combining HR, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management in a single application will help you understand the status of your workforce on a regular basis. You can use technology to check in all year long, rather than waiting until the last month of the year on a crunched timeline.
Sometimes the best way to improve your own work processes is simply to ask others what they are doing that works for them. Maybe you’ll learn about a new spreadsheet trick that reduces the time it takes you to track data. Maybe a colleague uses an effective tool you’ve never heard about. There could be a great website for tracking legal trends that you were unaware of.
It can be hard to make time to get step away from your daily work demands, but the information you learn through networking could be the HR golden nugget you’ve been searching for until now.
These five tips will help your company get into shape for year-end and manage compliance obligations throughout the year – hopefully making your life easier at “crunch-time.”
Related: Five ways to save time on payroll
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should review with your legal advisors how the laws identified in this post may apply to your specific situation.