The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a great time for human resource departments to examine all facets of their department and strategize for the upcoming year. This article will dive into specific tasks that HR departments must complete as well as examine ways for departments to get organized for the new year.

Task Checklist

The following items are specific items that HR departments must complete to stay in accordance with local and national regulations. The items also ensure that companies remain competitive on the market and are appealing for new hires.


  • Affordable Care Act (ACA)
    • Calculate the number of Full-Time Employees
    • Research if any employees are affected by grandfathered plans and if there have been any changes in these plans
    • Distribute Health Insurance Marketplace Notices to employees which includes information on the existence of the marketplace, an alert if the employee may be eligible for a tax credit, and a description on what happens to company benefits if an employee chooses a marketplace plan
    • Prepare reporting forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS that deal with employee eligibility for certain tax benefits
  • Distribute updated health insurance cards to employees
  • Confirm whether employees will claim any dependents
  • Close out paid time out (PTO) for the year, whether that’s carrying it over to the next year or paying out the time
  • Conduct market research on benefits packages and adjust as necessary


  • Adjust salaries as necessary based on cost-of-living prices and market research
  • Distribute holiday bonuses
  • Review payroll schedule for the new year
  • Order W-2s and 1099s for tax season
  • Look over information on W-4s such as employee wages, taxes, and withholding information


  • Review and update employee handbook
  • Gather up-to-date labor laws and ensure they are properly displayed and distributed
  • Research updates or additions to local, state, and federal laws
  • Confirm that workplace training has been completed, such as anti-harassment training
  • Organize files and separate current employees from past employees


  • Gather employee staffing needs from each department
  • Update job descriptions
  • Analyze and come up with a plan for recruitment
  • Review onboarding process for efficiency

General Guidelines for the New Year

The next section in this article focuses on general guidelines that HR departments should be aware of as they enter the new year. These items are strategic and focus on whether the overarching functions of an HR department are helping an organization stay true to its mission.

Connecting Employees with Business Objectives

An organization cannot exist without its employees, so it’s important for organizations to understand exactly how employees can best carry out business objectives. Human capital planning helps businesses maintain profitability through the optimal number of employees to carry out tasks. Companies want to avoid surpluses or shortages of employees, and human capital planning can help locate this balance.

Another method of achieving success is creating specific, measurable goals for employees to reach. Pointing employees in the direction of a vague mission statement doesn’t accomplish anything tangible, so organizations should take time to identify actual measures of success and brainstorm ways to track this data.

An example would be a company that manufactures dog collars with GPS tracking devices. Their mission statement might be to provide peace of mind for owners if their dogs escape from the house, but what does that mean for an individual employee? One measure of success would be a number of sales or getting a certain percent of engagement with online marketing.

Creating a Culture of Leadership

Even with employees working at their highest and most focused levels of productivity, an organization can still suffer without a well implemented system of leadership. Leaders have a unique perspective within an organization as they see how employees’ efforts collectively contribute to an organization’s goals. They receive feedback from a variety of sources and can make positive, wide-sweeping changes.

Leaders in an organization are akin to conductors of professional symphonies. At that level, conductors are not micro-managing each musician to make sure they are playing the correct notes. Rather they are hearing the collective sound and pushing the group to the next level of musicianship. Likewise, leaders in an organization bring employees together and help them surpass goals and objectives.

Reducing Employee Turnover

Turnover is costly for organizations, so HR departments should reflect on data and circumstances of turnover from the past year. Were employees let go because downsizing? Did they leave of their own volition and go to competitors? If organizations are hemorrhaging employees, HR departments can work with managers and other leaders to examine the efficiency of onboarding processes and increase benefits packages.

Another way to look critically at turnover is to approach it from an outsider’s perspective. An organization can think their onboarding processes work well with employee retention and that their benefits package is lucrative, but this might not always be the case. Organizations can conduct surveys that collect responses from a wide array of individuals to get clear and unbiased answers to these questions.

Bhr Consulting

HR departments perform a variety of roles in an organization, and it can be overwhelming to keep everything straight and prioritize the most important tasks. Contact Bhr Consulting today to help bring your organization into the new year!