We’re now into the last week of September. What that means is that next week we’re into the last quarter of the year. Wow how the year just flew by! The fourth quarter can be a very challenging time for organizations in terms of year-end activities. The senior leadership will be reviewing the organization’s performance and developing strategies for the future. The sales team will be looking at their numbers for the year and planning how to manage the gap this quarter so that by the end of it they’re at least on target. The production team will be looking into shortfalls and aiming to increase output that’ll facilitate the sales efforts. The finance team will be preparing for next year’s audit, financial statements and closing activities of the current year. And similarly, the HR team will need to prepare as well for the end of the current year and plan for the next.
It’s a great time to start work now while the organization’s budgets, strategies and forecasts are being conceived. HR should be looking into what its contribution will be towards the overall organizational goals and objectives. What role it’ll play as a partner and strategic ally to the business to facilitate growth. It’s now time to sit with your entire team to review the past and chalk out the future.
When doing this, however, the most important thing to keep in mind is what impact will the function make. That should form the foundation of every activity, initiative and task that HR performs. Here are a few suggestions on what should be part of your year-end activities that can make an impact.
1. Develop Meaningful HR Metrics
It’s no secret that business leaders describe HR as reactive and lacking an understanding of the business. Well that assumption isn’t going to change if HR keeps putting up metrics at management meetings that can’t see as directly impacting the company’s growth. Attrition, training stats and speed of hiring are great facts to know, but they’re probably best kept as internal numbers.
What HR should be flaunting is a blend of operational numbers which enable the management of the HR function along with strategic people numbers that facilitate crucial business decisions. Try some of these:
- Ratio of Employee Engagement and Employee Productivity
- Growth of HR Cost Against Revenue
- Retention of Talent and High Potentials
- Recruitment vs. Promotions in Middle Management
2. Analyze Your Workforce Strengths
Amongst common year-end activities that HR engages in is workforce planning which basically forecasts and identifies where growth of the workforce will be in the coming year. Beyond this “must-do” assignment is the study of your workforce strengths. Through this exercise you’ll engage with business leaders to identify outstanding talent identified during the course of the year. A detailed look at these individuals will incorporate their capabilities, developments and utilization. What the analysis will produce is insight that business leaders can use to exploit the full potential of their talent.
3. Alignment to Organizational Values
As custodians of the organization’s values, HR plays a pivot role in engaging and aligning employees with the purpose and goals. There’s great evidence that an organization’s success is directly related to the alignment of its employees to its values. In his book, Firms of Endearment, Raj Sisodia reports that companies with high employee alignment saw returns of 1,646% between 1996 and 2011. That’s phenomenal growth!
So the myth that HR is simply a back-office function is really up to how well your employee engagement initiatives really are. HR can positively impact the business if every employee was clear on their expectations, knew the significance of their purpose and contributions and was completely aligned to the organization’s values.
There’s no better opportunity than now to define and iron out all your employee engagement initiatives as part of your year-end activities. Involve your team and the senior management in the brainstorming activities to develop a plan that engages everyone from the janitorial staff to the CEO. The message should be clear and organizational values should be a part of everyone’s DNA.
4. Review and Implement Policies
Several organizations practice employee engagement surveys to obtain meaningful feedback from its employees on what’s working and what isn’t. Certain learnings that are obtained can be quick fixes – you could meet with the relevant stakeholders, hold short, structured discussions and address the concerns of your employees. However, sometimes it’s not that easy or swift.
Include in your year-end activities the review and implementation of policies that we’re possible mid-year. The last quarter of the year gives you ample time to:
- dig out what employees desire,
- meet service providers (if needed),
- crunch out its viability and practicality,
- hold discussions with stakeholders,
- seek management feedback and approval,
- design the policy and its operating procedure,
- conduct employee training (if needed), and finally
- roll-out the new policy.
At times it doesn’t have to be as elaborate as creating a new policy even. You may just have to tweak things here and there to polish up an existing policy and make it more relevant to the time and situation. Irrespective of new or revised, this is the time when you should be scratching your head to figure out how best to enhance loyalty and employee benefits.
5. Look Within Your Team
As a final, yet crucial act, all HR strategies and initiatives can falter if it isn’t run by a competent and strong team. As their leader, and looking ahead to an exciting new year ahead, you need to look within at your own team. Evaluate your bench strength, review their contributions, strengths and capabilities and analyze their utilization and potential. You need to be certain that you can materialize your “big plans” for the organization with the current team you have.
Your analysis may find some weak links. Ask yourself what you have planned for them. Are you going to develop them so that they can rise to your next level of expectations? Have they peaked and you’re willing to accept their limited contributions as is? Will they be replaced? All tough questions which can’t be answered overnight. Which is why the last quarter is a great time to plan your team’s strength. You may find that your team is understaffed. The induction of new talent may also be the catalyst that can boost team performance and morale.
Whatever the outcome the analysis of your team produces, the bottom-line is you need a team that is aligned with your vision to have an HR team that’s recognized as a strategic partner to the business.
Year-end activities can be limitless just as the strive for excellence has no end. Believing that your organization’s strengths and abilities will lead it to future success will drive you to push the boundaries of traditional HR to have more engaged and motivated employees. And with engaged employees as your goal every creative idea that you coin as you wrap up the year will be more innovative and exciting.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community