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How to Prepare for Year-End: Your HR Checklist

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Well, it happened again; it’s the last month of the year already! Year-end is a busy time for businesses, and it can be stressful to think about everything you need to do to prepare for the end of one year and the beginning of the next. To make it more manageable, you can break the preparation down into several key areas and tasks. The following is a general guide to help you prepare for the end of one year and the beginning of the next in HR.

Payroll and Tax Compliance

Year-end payroll and tax compliance ensures that your company meets its legal obligations and provides accurate information to both employees and tax authorities. Here are some guidelines on how to effectively handle year-end payroll and tax compliance:


  • Review and update employee payroll records.
  • Verify that all employee tax information is up-to-date.
  • Prepare and distribute W-2 or other relevant tax forms to employees.
  • Ensure compliance with all federal, state, and local tax regulations.


Keep a detailed and organized record of all payroll and tax-related documentation for at least four years after the tax is due or paid, as required by the IRS. Always check with your state and the latest federal policies regarding tax compliance. If you have complex tax issues or questions, consider consulting with a tax professional to ensure full compliance with tax regulations.


Benefits and Open Enrollment

Managing year-end benefits and open enrollment is a crucial task for HR and benefits administrators. Follow the steps outlined below for some tips on how to manage benefits and open enrollment at your company:


  • Communicate open enrollment dates and options to employees.
  • Review and update benefit plans for the new year.
  • Process any changes in employee benefit selections.
  • Ensure compliance with healthcare laws like the Affordable Care Act.


Create a comprehensive communication plan that includes various channels to reach employees. This may involve email announcements, company-wide meetings, informational webinars, posters, and dedicated open enrollment sessions.


Performance Reviews and Feedback

Year-end performance reviews provide an opportunity to assess an employee's performance over the past year, recognize achievements, address areas for improvement, and set clear expectations for the upcoming year. Here's a guide to help your management team conduct effective year-end performance reviews and feedback sessions:


  • Review the employee’s performance and gather relevant data.
  • Discuss goals, accomplishments, and development plans.
  • Provide feedback and set expectations for the upcoming year.
  • Document the key outcomes and next steps.


Year-end is also the time to review performance bonus structure and criteria, communicate and distribute year-end bonuses if applicable, and update salary scales and compensation packages for the new year.


Time-Off and Leave Balances

Effective communication and transparency with employees are vital to a successful paid time off (PTO) program. Ensure that all employees are aware of the PTO policies and any changes, and provide guidance and support to help them manage their time off effectively. A few guidelines for PTO and leave balances are:


  •   Review and update employee PTO balances accordingly.
  •   Ensure employees have taken any required or accrued time off.
  •   Communicate rollover policies and any changes for the new year.


Compliance and Reporting

Compliance and reporting ensure that you follow all relevant labor laws and regulations while keeping your company policies current. Here are some key points related to year-end compliance and reporting:


  • Ensure compliance with state and local labor laws such as wage and hour regulations.
  • Review and update company policies and practices to reflect any federal, state and local legal changes.
  • Prepare for upcoming reporting deadlines for EEO-1 and ACA 


Labor laws and regulations change regularly, so it's essential to stay informed about legal updates and adapt your practices accordingly.


Cura HR is Here For You

By breaking down year-end HR preparations into key areas, you can streamline the process, reduce stress, and ensure that all necessary tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. 


Whether you need a scalable, outsourced CHRO for long-term leadership or interim HR support to navigate a business transition, Cura is your modern HR solution! We’d love to hear about your business so we can understand how to identify and implement the opportunities that will make the new year successful for your business!

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