Don’t look now, but it is Dec. 15 and 2015 is right around the corner. There are a lot of things to do in a small business to close out the year and prepare for the next, so here are some tips and to-dos to help guide you through the human resource side of your business:
- Holiday Party – If you’re having a company holiday party or celebratory event for your employees, be mindful that this is one of the biggest sources of liability and risk for an employer. Not to be a scrooge, but it is important for employers to be aware of the potential risk and to be proactive during the planning stages of the event. Setting guidelines around alcohol being served or not can reduce the risk. Remember to serve food if you choose to serve alcohol, provide transportation and remind employees that company policies regarding sexual harassment, assault, etc. are still applicable and violations will result in the appropriate disciplinary action. Consider having a different type of event to reduce the risk, such as an afternoon team-building event or luncheon.
- Year End Celebrations – Sometimes an employer’s well-meaning attempt to provide an end of the year or holiday celebration for employees can be more harm than good, no matter how intended. The tip here is to make the celebration fit the work environment and talk to employees about what they would like to do. Also, make sure that the investment you’re making in these celebrations returns value to the company in the form of high employee morale rather than wasted expense. Sometimes less is more in these situations.
- Performance Reviews – If you conduct annual performance reviews and/or provide pay increases or bonuses during this time of the year, be sure to keep your word and schedule the reviews and increases to process on time. Otherwise, it has a negative effect on morale causing employees to become disgruntled and will lose trust in what you tell them. Take the process seriously and be sure to reward your top performers and don’t be afraid to give zeros to the poor performers. For next year, consider eliminating annual performance reviews and moving to a work environment of ongoing feedback.
- Employee Files – At the end of each year you should clean up your employee files and I-9 Forms and separate the terminated employees from the active. It is recommended to box up terminated employee files and maintain them for five years after date of separation.* Once that retention requirement has been met, the records can be destroyed/shredded.
*Keep in mind that different retention requirements apply to I-9 Forms as well as different employment related documents and is also based on the number of employees that a company has.
- Employment Regulations and Hot Topics – The world of employment law and regulations is constantly changing and the coming year is bringing a lot of activity to keep up with. Hot HR topics range from the new Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) reporting regulations to state minimum wage and sick pay policies to “ban the box” movements. It is extremely important for companies to make sure that they are aware of and current with the employment laws and regulations applicable to their business.
As 2014 closes out, I would like to wish everyone the best this Holiday Season and nothing but well wishes for 2015! Thank you for your support over the past year and look forward to a great 2015!