7 Ways to Prepare for a New Year in HR

Dec 9, 2013 Posted by

After a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with my stepson and his wife, we headed to the airport. As we were driving, my stepson talked about the “freeze” at work. He’s a technology leader at a huge organization that is wholly dependent on technology, and from late November through mid-January, all technology systems are frozen. No changes, no upgrades.

He said that he always looked forward to the “freeze” because it gave him the opportunity to stop, reflect and plan for the upcoming year. Wow, what a concept!

It took me back to my early days in the Marine Corps where at the end of each fiscal year, we “retired” old files and information and “opened” new files for the new year. The Inspector General even audited to make sure this was accomplished. I’d think about that in my civilian roles, where we just piled document over document until we needed more space, then sent stuff off to an “archive” — which over the years began to cost beaucoup dollars.

What’s my point? Renewal, reflection, rest — those things that allow our minds and our bodies to take a break, celebrate our success and make a plan to move forward. We don’t generally do that, particularly not in human resources.

The compensation team is updating salary structures, those in charge of benefits are making plan changes, and depending on the industry, other areas of HR are scurrying around setting goals, laying off seasonal temps, and running year-end stats. It may not be realistic to take the respite at the end of the year, but then again, is that not a perfect time to refresh, reflect and renew? Perhaps even rest?

Like the change of seasons, there is a real benefit to concluding one cycle, and beginning anew. It recharges batteries, puts closure on aspects of work, and offers a new start.

How can HR take advantage of the opportunity to refresh, reflect and renew? Here are seven steps that will help an HR department begin the new year ready to roll:

  1. Create a year-end report. True, this is more work, but it is also a chance to stop and look at everything that has been accomplished…or not.
  2. Celebrate. For those things that were done well, make sure every single contributor sees the results of the good work, and receives a hearty “thank you” for a job well done.
  3. Review. Look back at work completed or not, and identify the “why.” If something derailed, why? If something worked well, why? Successes are often looked at retrospectively, but it’s important to make sure that the success was intentional — not a fluke. How well did you work as a team? Were your customers happy with your work? Don’t look just at what you did, but also how you did it in order to learn and grow as a team.
  4. Plan. A comprehensive review can point the way for the coming year, looking not just at goals, but also at team cohesiveness, reputation and perception, and at workload. The new year offers opportunity to identify how you want your team to operate and be perceived at the end of the coming year. This is the reflection part.
  5. Reach closure. Your work products may not end neatly at the end of the fiscal year, but putting closure on milestones achieved perpetuates the feeling of accomplishment.
  6. Clean. Clean up your office, your files, your computer. Set aside time to go through the ritual of cleaning up provides a feeling of renewal that is energizing.
  7. Rest.  Telling people to rest at the holidays is usually asking for the impossible, but if you can’t find time before the end of the year, find time after. Use that time for personal reflection and downtime.

I’m envious of the cyclical nature of my stepson’s work. To be able to shut down, stop the madness, and attend to what’s next is a gift. But we can take care of ourselves by creating our own gift in HR by taking the above steps. It’s something we really must do.