Feeling accomplished at the end of 2024 isn’t just about setting lofty goals; it’s about strategically planning how to reach those goals. As small business leaders or HR departments, you will need to lay out a roadmap that is both achievable and impactful. The secret to reaching your goals? Not only should they be S-M-A-R-T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), but the experts agree the key lies in planning and writing down goals.
We’ve put together a month-by-month guide you can use to navigate the upcoming year and help your team set and achieve your objectives (Download a desk-friendly version here!).
January: Charting the Course
Start the year by setting aside a dedicated day or two for planning and goal-setting. Start with the end in mind: where do you want to be when 2024 comes to a close? (If you need a little help, ask about Inspiring HR’s 12-Month Plan.). Think about ways you can “manage up” and proactively approach leadership instead of waiting for plans to trickle down to you. If you can, seek clarity from any business planning sessions that may have occurred so you can align your work and best support the business.
February: Embracing Company Values
Embrace and recommit to your company’s values early on in the year. Use them as guiding principles for decision-making and as a cultural backbone within your business operations throughout your goal-making this year. Any updates to handbooks or policies should reflect your company values. Top-down and bottom-up, internally with your team and externally with customers – your company values should be felt throughout.
March: Cultivating Culture
A great way to end the first quarter of the year is a Culture Engagement Survey. This can allow you to measure your starting point and see your growth opportunities this year. Ask yourself why you need it and how you will utilize the findings. Collaborate with decision-makers and leadership to consider how you implement what you learned. Where can there be improvements based on insights from the survey?
April: Vendor Evaluation
Set aside a day to review all vendor agreements to kick off Q2. Are you up-to-date on what each vendor offers? Consider whether there’s new technology, features, services, or budget better suited to your evolving business needs. This doesn’t need to be solely on one person – think about who can help you periodically evaluate vendors and partners.
Remember, it’s okay if a vendor no longer fits your business, but open communication is critical. If you need more than they can provide, ask if they have ideas to fill these new gaps or can refer someone to facilitate.
May: Revisit Job Descriptions & Growth
Review job descriptions and explore opportunities for upskilling or reskilling your team. Assess if roles need adjustments and ensure they align with workflows and organizational charts to help retain top talent. Consider whether roles are realistic in terms of workload and compensation. If you’re hiring, use these recruiting and hiring tips to ensure you’re prepared to find the right people for the right roles.
As you revisit roles and responsibilities, ask yourself these questions:
- Has the scope of work changed? The role has maybe evolved as the business has grown or the role has shifted in a way the incumbent is no longer a fit.
- Has anyone outgrown the role? New skills or professional development may have someone no longer fitting in their current position.
- Where does the role and/or person sit within workflows and on your org chart? Perhaps this position or person would be better suited to a different team or manager.
- Is the job description realistic? Think about whether it’s too much work for one person or not enough compensation for that amount of work.
June: Handbook Revisions
Regularly update the Employee Handbook to comply with labor laws in your state. Even if not required by law, updating your company’s handbook at least once a year helps ensure it accurately reflects your organization’s policies, procedures, and expectations. As your business continuously evolves, your handbook needs continuous review and adjustments. If you need assistance to keep your handbook relevant and compliant, talk to one of our HR consultants who can offer support.
July: Training and Professional Development
Make career development part of your work environment and encourage continuous learning for all team members, even yourself! Schedule or share training opportunities for employees to take a course on something related to their role or the company’s industry. If summer is a quieter time for your team, this is an excellent time of year for professional development.
This can also be a great time to talk with leadership about succession planning if transitions are on the horizon. Determine the necessary skills for certain leadership roles and begin nurturing talent early. This ensures that when the time comes, you are a step ahead in the process.
August: Enhancing Onboarding
Revamp your new employee onboarding checklist. Start with the first week – does it cover the bare minimum? Stretch your thinking to responsibilities for the first month and expectations for the first quarter. A thorough onboarding process can help everyone stay aligned and on target. For onboarding checklists, internal responsibilities, and task lists for managing the onboarding process, Inspiring HR offers services to help.
Think about what you learned in March from vendor evaluations and consider whether your payroll technology aligns with your needs. Consider whether you can leverage those services for anything that requires a new employee’s signature, such as the employee handbook acknowledgment.
September: Reflecting on Progress
As the third quarter closes, consider an evaluation for the year-to-date. Reflect on achieved milestones and refocus on which goals remain for a satisfying year-end. Don’t wait until December to start reflecting on what is left to do. Leverage the back-to-school and end-of-summer motivation to harness your goals and finish the year strong.
October: Emphasizing Diversity
Review and reinforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, especially with the holiday season approaching. Create a more diverse and unified culture in your small business. Good planning in October can set you up for success for the holidays so you can avoid the December dilemma and create an inclusive holiday workplace.
November: Planning Ahead
Prepare for upcoming holiday celebrations and learn some do’s and don’t’s to consider when it comes to the holiday party. It’s not just holidays and celebrations at the end of the year, either. Think about what else happens typically in December and see if you can shift to November. Perhaps you can approach annual reviews early this year. Think back to your vendor evaluation and leverage performance management tech if available in your payroll system.
Plan ahead beyond the holiday party and think about awareness months or big anniversaries for the company and individuals. This can be a great way to boost company culture and improve employee retention.
December: Involving Employees in Goal-Setting
Encourage employee involvement in setting their own goals. Align this process with the annual reviews from November. Including team members in collaborative conversations about goals – for both individuals and the company – can foster a more inclusive and engaged workplace culture by making employees feel like a valued part of the team.
By following this HR planning calendar, you can proactively address HR challenges, enhance employee satisfaction, and align strategies with business goals. Each month serves as a stepping stone toward a more organized and efficient business.
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: December 2023 Legal Updates or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.