You may personally think that January 1 is just another day, but in the world of business and project management, the beginning of a calendar year marks an important point in time for an employer. In particular, the new year is important because it allows you to finally assess your revenue and profits ahead of Tax Day, a key step if you’re hoping to make big changes to your workforce planning or workforce scheduling in the coming year.
The New Year isn’t just a time for fiscal reflection, however. It is also a moment of symbolic importance to employers and employees alike because it represents an opportunity to begin anew. It’s a reminder that it’s never too late to make big changes, for yourself and your business.
Start preparing your taxes
Now that you’ve got your numbers in for the year, figure out as quickly as possible how much you expect to owe in taxes. Doing taxes at the last minute is stressful and more likely to lead to costly mistakes.
Just as important, by accounting for your taxes, you can begin planning the rest of your budget for the year. If you’re planning on growing the business by hiring more employees, upgrading equipment or increasing compensation for existing workers, you need to know as soon as possible how much money you’ll have left over after Tax Day to make those investments.
Check for licenses or permits
One of the keys to project management, whether you’re a construction project manager or tending to various patients in the long-term care industry, is to ensure that your company is keeping up with rules and regulations. The level of regulation and the number of permits required of businesses varies dramatically based on country and jurisdiction. For instance, workers in the trades may need to get their professional licenses renewed every few years or receive updated training. No matter what field you’re in, the New Year is always a good excuse to make sure you are in compliance.
Revisit your pricing
As you begin to assess your financial situation, it’s a good time to consider whether it’s time to adjust your prices. If business is going well, it might be right to start the New Year by bumping up prices a little bit to account for any inflation and fuel growth.
If you have repeat customers, it’s best to broach the matter of price increases with them as transparently as possible. Don’t try to sneak a price hike on them. It’s only more likely to offend them and lead to a lost customer.
Solicit input from your workers
For many workplaces, tradition dictates that pay raises and bonuses are reserved for the end of the year, right before the holidays. This doesn’t always have to be the case, however. The beginning of the year is also a fitting time for an employee to be recognized for hard work. It’s also prudent to hold off on doling out bonuses or pay hikes until you’ve got your taxes figured out and you know exactly how much money you’re going to have on hand for the year.
The New Year is also a natural time to solicit feedback from your employees about what they think of their jobs, their workplace and your leadership. They may also have some good ideas the business would benefit from.
Sending out an online survey or questionnaire can be a good way to get a broad sense of employee satisfaction, but the more you can personalize the interaction, the better. If time permits, set up short one-on-one interviews with employees where they can discuss their professional development and share their thoughts about how to to improve their work experience. Many workers are intimidated by the prospect of voicing concerns, for fear of offending their superior. However, if you make a point of inviting their critiques, you’ll learn a lot of useful information that will help you be a better manager.
Provide feedback to employees
You should be conducting performance reviews with employees at least once a year. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the calendar year, but that’s a good time for couple of key reasons.
First, it makes sense for employee assessments to be coupled with pay increases or promotions, which are best handled after you’ve prepared your taxes and budget. Second, many employees view the New Year as an opportunity to make resolutions or turn over a new leaf. They will likely appreciate the idea of starting the new year fresh, with advice and encouragement from their employer on how to improve their performance and contribute more to the team.
Set the all-important New Year’s resolutions
New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for your personal life. They’re also a good idea from a business perspective. The holidays are a great time to reflect on the past year of business and consider ways the company could improve in the coming year.
One good exercise is to start a to-do list of things that need improvement. Anything, from employee tardiness and absenteeism to job site accidents or outdated technology, is worth considering. For each problem, list potential solutions, such as investigating and investing in new systems, new rules or additional training. For instance, when it comes to tardiness or absenteeism, putting in place an advanced employee time tracking app or workforce management software will likely go a long way towards promoting accountability. But you may also consider whether you need to effect a cultural change by implementing and enforcing stricter rules regarding late arrivals.
Your plans should focus on achieving both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term objectives include hiring new employees, purchasing new technology, raising prices and acquiring new leads and customers. Long-term goals relate to where you want the company to be one year or five years down the road in terms of revenue, profits, productivity and public image.
Celebrate your successes
While it’s important in business to recognize and hold yourself accountable to your mistakes or shortcomings, it’s just as critical to appreciate your successes. The past year may not have gone as well as you’d hoped, but if you’re still in business, you and your employees are doing something right.