Year-end checklist for HR professionals

As the end of the year approaches, it can seem like there are an infinite number of tasks that need to be completed. However, tackling your HR checklist near the end of the fourth quarter doesn't have to be a stressful experience. With a plan in place, you can finish off the year strong and with your sanity intact. To help guide your efforts, we've put together a checklist of year-end tasks for HR professionals below:

1. Verify employee compensation
Payroll is a main concern during the last months of the year. Verify compensation information for every employee in your organization. If certain individuals received raises or promotions, make sure these changes are reflected in their current pay stubs as well as in tax documents and company records. Annual, quarterly or holiday bonuses should also be accounted for. 

2. Report benefits enrollment information 
Some health and life insurance plans and retirement plans require companies to report enrollment figures and balances at the end of the year. Check with your brokers and carriers to determine whether your company needs to report this information in a different manner than last year. 

3. Support compliance with regulatory updates 
Ensure that your company will be in compliance with changes to labor laws, employee compensation requirements and any other relevant regulations in the new year. This involves checking that your HR technology will continue to support compliance documentation and reporting under these changes. You may need to upload or make revisions to HR documents on the employee intranet as well as the employee handbook. 

Also, verify that your company is set up to report any required information to the IRS by the end of this year and ensure you have access to the correct tax forms for the upcoming year. Pay careful attention to overtime laws and tax filings for freelancers, contract workers and remote employees located outside the state in which your company is located.

4. Make any necessary updates to FSAs
In 2018, the cap for employee contributions to health care flexible spending accounts will increase to $2,650, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Communicate this increase to employees through online and printed materials, even if you have to update previously issued open enrollment information. You should also ensure that you understand any changes to the allowance of employer contributions to FSAs in 2018.  

In addition to informing employees about the cap increase, be sure to urge them to consider spending any remaining balances in their 2017 FSAs, as they will lose any funds they do not use come Jan. 1. 

Does your current data reflect all the changes your employees experienced in 2017?The lives of some of your employees changed in 2017. Did your data change with them?

5. Update employee contact info 
HR should have accurate and updated information on all employees. Bear in mind that employees may have married, moved or changed banks, which could affect direct deposit. Remind employees to verify their contact and personal information with HR before the end of the year. 

6. Determine the 2018 holiday schedule 
Figure out which holidays your company will observe in 2018. If you can, also determine early release days, summer Fridays, dates for annual company meetings, retreats and any holiday parties. Disseminate this information to employees, and update calendars and resources on the company intranet. 

7. Share timetables for performance reviews 
Coordinate with managers to establish a timeline for any end-of-year performance reviews. Supply managers with documents or forms they need for recording review scores and feedback to help organize and streamline the process. Create a calendar for next year's quarterly or monthly reviews, if necessary. 

8. Identify recruitment needs 
Evaluate your current workforce and identify whether there are skill or knowledge gaps that need to be filled in 2018. Also, look forward to any upcoming projects or promotions that may require the hiring of additional talent or contingent workers. 

9. Confirm annual budget 
Review the company annual budget and submit any final amendments on the HR side if necessary. Ensure that the budget includes recruitment goals for 2018 as well as allowances for any technology upgrades to HR systems. Budgets are most helpful when they are built off of data-backed insights, so collect any reports or analytics from your HR technology that may help get buy-in for HR or related line items in the budget. 

10. Set goals for the year ahead
Thinking about goals for next year may seem like a lot when you're still trying to finish out the current one successfully, but when you spend time considering HR and companywide aspirations now, you ensure that strategic planning doesn't get lost in the hustle and bustle of January.