“Don’t bother me, it’s 4th quarter” is a phrase we hear quite frequently from October into December, and sometimes lingering into January.

Fourth quarter means open enrollment, quarter-end, year-end, performance reviews, hiring initiatives (or off boarding) for seasonal industries.  It’s also the holidays – Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah – and many people are also out on vacation. There’s a lot going on and you are singing the Fourth Quarter Blues.

Fear not.  We have some suggestions to make it a little easier for you.

  • If it is open enrollment time at your company, get your broker involved.  Your broker should be willing and able to get all your employees enrolled (in person or virtually), have the conversations that need to be had, and be available for questions. They should submit the paperwork and take care of all the administrative work for you.  If deductions change, get them in a spreadsheet, which you then can upload into your payroll software.
  • Is it time for annual reviews? Get them scheduled now, in advance, and then take just 15 minutes a day to review them for accuracy. (Future planning: Consider holding annual reviews at another time – first quarter or at the beginning of your fiscal year (if different) – to less the fourth quarter burden.)
  • Get ahead of the W-2 craziness by asking your employees to update their contact information now, so you don’t spend January and February answering phone calls and emails about “Where is my W-2?”
  • Does your company give holiday bonuses?  Get started on that now.  Make a spreadsheet, calculate the “gross to net,” and be ready to roll.
  • Delegate when you can.  Are you planning the holiday party?  Enlist help of others.
  • Take your breaks! Those breaks and lunches that you enforce?  You are not exempt from them.  Take that time to walk around, get some fresh air, read, etc.  This will decrease your stress level and increase your productivity.
  • Make some much needed hires.  Fourth quarter is a great time to hire. Many people give up hope of getting a job because of the holidays, and some employers give up as well, which means you may have access to a great selection of candidates.
  • Decorate for the holidays.  Having some fun and aesthetically pleasing items to look at is soothing. Get your team involved, so it isn’t all on you.
  • Utilize your time off / flex time / work from home if any of those are available to you.  A small change of pace can do wonders for your fourth quarter stress.
  • Attend a session of HR Therapy. HR Therapy is an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, discuss struggles, and learn from what others have experienced.
  • Meet with friends after work or during lunch. Spending time with people we enjoy is a great way to boost our spirits.

Fourth quarter can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be terrible. Plan ahead, make lists, get help, and, before you know it, it will be spring…all of this will be a distant memory.

NAE is here to help. Our team of experienced human resources professionals help employers develop effective human resources practices and consult on daily HR challenges. When problems are more difficult our team assists with developing defensible solutions to assist in staying compliant with ever-changing rules and regulations. Not a member? Join today to begin enjoying the benefits of membership.