You Can Successfully Clear Your Year-End To-Do List

The end of the year is a busy time for HR departments, we all understand that. But sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Starting now not only means you keep the company compliant and in good standing, but gives you a head start on work for the new year. 

For those new to their positions or looking for a fresh take on end of the year tasks, this rundown looks at general activities, compliance-related activities, and employee compensation and benefits activities. It might not be an exhaustive list for your company, but will give you a great starting point.

General Activities

Your department (or just you) might be tasked with completing annual performance reviews, asking employees to update information in your HR platform, backing up HR data and personnel files, budgeting, reviewing recruiting or hiring processes, or creating plans for new hires. 

There are more areas that can help your department and company overall in the new year. 

Review HR metrics. What are some key areas that you need to meet and improve upon in the coming year? Top metrics you should score yourself and/or department on include: 

  • Employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Employee productivity
  • Turnover rate, including new hire turnover
  • HR growth compared to revenue
  • Average time to fill open positions
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Promotion rate
  • Time to hire
  • HR-to-employee ratio

By aligning HR metrics to long-term organizational goals, you can positively impact your organization’s growth and facilitate strategic decision-making.

Workforce analysis. Talk with leaders and managers to identify outstanding talent and develop their capabilities. That not only allows you to contribute to overall staffing for the following year, but also to determine training needs, recruitment plans, and employee recognition for programs you manage.

In working with others over the next few weeks, evaluate your current recruitment strategies and determine areas for improvement. What departments could see growth or could use training opportunities to elevate and reward current employees? 

Because hiring is an ongoing process, review processes now to make sure departments give you all of the necessary information when the time comes to post a position. 

Meanwhile, while the new year is ahead of you, work with departments to plan a training calendar for the upcoming year. What topics do they need to cover, plus what HR initiatives do you want to educate employees on? Put pen to paper and assign tasks for creating training materials, bringing in others for the training sessions, and getting buy-in from other departments. 

While working on that, conduct employee satisfaction surveys and analyze results to identify areas for improvement. This helps not only with employee training but also recognition programs and wellness initiatives. 

It’s one way workforce analysis plays a part in recruitment, training, recognition, and benefits. 

Value alignment. All of those functions help HR have a positive impact on an organization. Especially as you work through recognition programs, you can add to them with a review of your organization’s core values and definition of employee engagement initiatives. HR can help engage and align employees with the organization’s purpose and values, which can positively impact an organization’s attraction and retention efforts.

Employee feedback and communications. We’ve stressed multiple ways you can vary and improve your communications when it comes to things like open enrollment, and keeping employees engaged year-round. Those same initiatives you can find in those blog posts can help you get information on what is working and what isn’t. 

By soliciting employee feedback, organizations can gather insights to improve employee engagement and morale, boost productivity, strengthen retention, refine internal processes, and meet organizational goals. Surveying folks now gives you a path forward in the new year. 

Take stock of how communications regarding benefits, holiday schedules, and tax information performs so you are prepared for next year to change tactics if necessary. 

Compliance Activities

Right away, you need to conduct a compliance audit. Compliance is an ongoing responsibility, but doing an audit now can help avoid potential legal issues and penalties.

Common items reviewed during a compliance audit include the following:

  • Employee classification
  • Personnel files
  • Employee handbook
  • Employment policies
  • Employment and labor law posters

Spend about two weeks on your audit to ensure legal compliance, and one of the weeks can be spent reviewing and updating employee policies and handbooks to comply with any new laws or regulations. 

Many organizations are legally required to submit year-end reports or notices, such as an EEO-1 Component 1 data collection report, Medicare Part D notice or annual reporting under the Affordable Care Act for qualifying employers. Despite all that must be done at year’s end, HR must ensure these reports and compliance notices are prepared and submitted in a timely manner to avoid penalties and fines.

Documents and policy updates. So much has changed not only in the last year but in the few years since the COVID-19 pandemic. If you haven’t reviewed documents or policies, now is the time to do so. HR can help organizations prepare for these changes by researching new laws and regulations and implementing all applicable changes.

Employee Compensation and Benefits Activities

Not only are changes coming to the Affordable Care Act in the new year, but there could be state or local changes to payroll or other benefits you need to review and prepare for. 

Employee bonuses and payroll. To avoid potential payment issues, review employee wage, tax, and withholding information at the end of the year to ensure it’s accurate for the upcoming year. If it has not been confirmed in your HR platform yet, you can work with payroll to establish next year’s payroll schedule and prepare for the first payroll run of the new year.

It gives you a great opportunity to review salary structures, especially if potential new hires could come on board in the new year, and to stay competitive in the job market. 

That pertains to bonuses, as well, to make sure employees who are eligible for a bonus have met all requirements and reasons why are documented if they have not. 

Time off calendar and balances. Does paid time off or other time-off balances carry over into the new year? If so they must be reviewed for accuracy to ensure time-off eligibility and carryover rules are applied correctly and employees are provided with accurate information. Any unused time off that can be paid out will need to be reviewed and added to the payroll, if applicable. 

You can also ensure next year’s calendar includes the correct dates for company holidays. This is a simple task that can prevent headaches in the upcoming year


HR covers a lot of ground in the final weeks of the year (and we didn’t even touch on the fun events like recognition parties and holiday celebrations). We’re keeping it simple for you with our Year-end HR Activities Checklist available now for instant download. Give yourself every edge to succeed as the year wraps up and download the checklist today.