It happened fast, but the fourth quarter of 2017 is here. This time of year is commonly a mad rush to finish last-minute tasks and to ensure your company can continue to run smoothly amid employee vacations and holiday parties. The fourth quarter is also a critical time for companies to finish the year strong and to prepare for the next year, and human resources professionals have a big influence on how these final three months go.

To help ensure your company closes out the year with smiles and cheers and not stress and frustration, here are four common mistakes HR professionals can make despite best efforts.

1. Not honoring work-life balance

When deadlines are nearing, sales departments are trying to hit their quotas and clients are determining their budgets for the following year, it can be easy to have the office environment slide into one where everyone stays late and is frantically answering emails around the clock. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance during the fourth quarter is critical to keeping employee productivity, morale and engagement high. No one can put in their best work if they feel burned out or crushed by unreasonable demands.

work from homeAllowing employees to work from home more often can support a healthier work-life balance during the fourth quarter.

HR professionals should communicate to employees the importance of protecting a healthy work-life balance, especially around the holidays. They can do this by working with managers to see how certain projects can be broken into smaller pieces or divvied up among a greater number of employees to avoid overtime. Glassdoor also recommends that HR managers prioritize “must-do” items over “would like to do” items as the end of the year approaches. Letting employees work from home allows them to maintain healthy work-life balances while also completing their assigned tasks.

2. Focusing only on Q4 goals

While there is a lot to get done in the fourth quarter, HR also needs to devote some time to plan and prepare for the new year. This is the time to review your company’s performance over the past year and use this insight to set strategic priorities for the next 12 months. Developing a clear vision and key goals for HR to achieve in the new year will improve productivity down the road.

3. Having their data in separate systems

Tax data, compliance information, bonuses and performance reviews – all key pieces of data you will undoubtedly need to access for year-end. If this data is housed in separate HR technology systems, your job will be much more difficult than if it were accessible via a single system. While it is too late to do anything this year, make sure to add “evaluate end-to-end HR solutions” at the top of your strategic plan for 2018! Having payroll, HR, benefits, and talent data available through a single platform will save you significant time, improve efficiency and provide more detailed, data-driven strategic insights.

“HR professionals are going to have a difficult time tackling their to-do lists if their data is siloed.”

4. Not checking if there are any benefits changes

Though you may have completed open enrollment already, there’s no guarantee that the details of the plans will stay the same into the new year. As Employee Benefit Adviser notes, tweaks are often made at the start of a new year, even to copays and premiums. It’s important to confirm if any changes have or will take place come the new year, and to communicate these concerns with their brokers.

Q4 can be hectic and overwhelming but it also is a great opportunity to learn lessons from the past and set forward on a path to success.

Remember: contact us to learn more about how PeopleStrategy eHCM® can help you streamline your HR processes all year, not just at Year-End.