Ask an Advisor: Annual Best Practices for HR Departmental Planning

As an HR Knowledge Advisor, I often receive questions from members about what HR professionals should be doing at the beginning of the new year. This is an excellent time for HR professionals to set up their compliance reminders, reflect on the shortcomings and successes of the previous year, and establish professional goals for the new year. I have highlighted a few topics I often speak with members about when I discuss best practices with them.

Prepare for Upcoming Policy Changes

Many new laws take effect within the first few months of the following year. Now is a good time to not only gather the new laws but also make subsequent changes to your employee handbook. Some laws are passed quietly and are easily overlooked, but if they affect your business or employees, you must be aware of them and ensure you’re in compliance. Check the website of your state's Department of Labor on a regular basis for any modifications, and subscribe to SHRM’s daily or weekly newsletters to stay up-to-date on employment law changes.


At the beginning of each new year, create an HR compliance calendar with reminders. For example, January 31 is the deadline to distribute W-2s to employees or March 31st for submitting the EEO-1 report. Setting a reminder, a week or so before the due date, will give you time to complete and submit the documents. The SHRM home page provides important dates, and other reporting information can be found on our Compliance Resources page.

Reflect on Previous Year

In my career, I often found January the perfect time to reflect on the previous year’s initiatives, shortcomings and successes. Taking the time to reflect on the year is one of the most important things HR can take time to do during the new year. I often kept a record of what I called “Lessons Learned.” Those records often included shortcomings as well as accomplishments.

Set Professional Goals

Often, HR is so busy setting organizational goals that they forget about their own. Perhaps challenge yourself beyond last year and think about obtaining a certification or write a professional blog! Remember, goals can be set on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis depending on what you think is expected and attainable.

If you want to know more about HR compliance and professional goal setting or have other HR questions, we’d love to help! Give us a call or send an e-mail. We’re also available by chat. It’s one of the most valued benefit of SHRM membership!

SHRM’s Ask an Advisor service is a member benefit through which SHRM’s HR Knowledge Advisors share guidance, real-life personal and professional experiences, and resources to assist members with their HR-related inquiries.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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