Back to School and Q4 HR Calendar

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Summer ends soon (I am so sorry to remind you!) and with that comes fall, the return to school (for those with school-aged kids), and preparing for the Q4 HR calendar. Q4 is HR’s busiest season, followed by Q1, for most HR departments. For some, it may be the reverse with Q1 as the busy season. Either way, HR is looking at a 6-month marathon of work ahead.

The typical Q4/Q1 HR calendar includes:

  • Compensation benchmarking
  • Merit increases and bonus determinations
  • Compensation and Total Rewards Statements
  • Open enrollment/benefits renewal
  • Performance Review and/or Goal Completion Review
  • Annual Goal Setting
  • Budgeting and Workforce Planning
  • Compliance and Reporting

It’s process overdrive! Here are some strategies to help you stay sane:

  1. Make a project plan – a simple approach is to identify your deadlines and work backward from there. Check out a prior blog, The Push for Projects: How to Implement Quality Projects that Stay on Time and on Task with some project management tips.
  2. Enlist resources – Whether you’re a team of one or a team of ten, identify resources to help communicate, administrate, and manage each critical HR event. If your team is lean, consider an external partner (like The O’Connor Group) or potential flex-players within your company, such as administrative assistants or office managers.
  3. Start early – After creating your plan and identifying resources, identify what you can start now. Communication is a good example of pre-work. You may not know all the details, such as your benefits renewal rates, but you can start drafting the communication to employees and then fill in those details once available. Similarly, review all templates and forms used the year prior. Often at least the year on the form needs to be updated (can you believe we’re preparing for 2023?!).
  4. Take a break – If you have not taken PTO this summer, take it now! Breaks are important and it’s especially important to unplug. Don’t put your cell number in your out-of-office message and don’t say you will check your email occasionally. There’s rarely a true emergency that cannot wait until you return. But if you signal that people can contact you while you’re on vacation, then they will.

Most importantly, champion you and your HR team. Allocate time in your project plan and resourcing where you report out on all of this activity. Don’t be an unsung hero and don’t be afraid to self-promote, if not for you, then for your team. These critical events in the annual calendar for the organization don’t happen on their own – you make them happen!

We know this time of year is challenging. We see you and we thank you for all that you do to support your employees, increase engagement, and create a positive experience!