How to Breeze Through Fourth Quarter Deadlines

How to Breeze Through Fourth Quarter Deadlines

Taxes filing, benefits updates, employee reviews, budget planning … the list of tasks that businesses must complete by the end of the year can be daunting. Too often, we hear HR pros and business owners who are stressed out trying to meet all the demands in this busy quarter, but it could be easier.

Being prepared for what lies ahead can limit the scramble businesses face at the end of the year. Here are a few things due by the end of Q4, and how to tackle the mountain of paperwork.

Federal tax reporting

Reporting for the IRS can be incredibly complex and difficult depending on the size of a business. From quarterly 941 forms to annual W-2s, 944 and 1099 forms, the paperwork required by the IRS can make you feel like you’re in quicksand.

To ease the burdens, follow these tips:

  • Maintain organized and separate records for expenses, income, and taxes. This makes it easier to find the necessary numbers when filling out the forms. Good record keeping is the best way businesses can ensure they aren’t spending all Q4 preparing the mountain of forms awaiting them
  • Monthly folders (digital or paper) containing the records for each employee will help you when it comes to the end of the year. This organizational method provides you with accurate and updated data that can be easily compiled at the end of the year

Updating benefits plans

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly a third of all employees are more likely to stay at their job due to the benefits. This shows how important a comprehensive benefits plan is to keeping top employees. The same percentage of employees are more likely to leave their job due to their benefits plan, proving the need for businesses to provide comprehensive benefit plans that meet the needs of their employees.

There is a strong need for HR departments to make sure the benefits plan is cost-effective and comprehensive enough to keep employees happy. With open enrollment for benefits plans generally beginning mid-October, being unprepared can lead to an additional headache for those who administer plans. Get ahead of this by finding the right plan early and explaining the benefits to staff beforehand to ensure they understand the benefits available.

Be prepared to answer these questions:

  • What is covered by their health insurance?
  • Are there dental and optical plans and what are the co-pays for that coverage?
  • Can employees’ sign-up for health savings or flex spending accounts?
  • What about enrolling in the company 401k?
    • Is matching available?

Providing an easy-to-understand document can minimize questions for the HR team.

Bonus tip: Use the end of the year to roll out new benefits you’re offering, such as student loan repayments or paid family leave to incentivize employees to stay during peak job search season.

Annual performance reviews

While these occasionally occur at the employee’s work anniversary, the end of year review is still common. With bonuses, pay raises, promotions and potentially difficult conversations, there’s a lot to stress about.

There are three reasons to conduct performance reviews that aren’t related to financial decisions.

  • Help set goals for your employees in terms of performance
  • Ensure expectations are understood and being met
  • Make sure job duties are lining up with the job description

Performance reviews can also be used to determine merit-based raises and bonuses for employees, providing them with a year-end reason to celebrate.

To ease some of the time-crunch associated with reviews, have them at a different time of year, or make them twice annually or quarterly. This allows you to have information ahead of time and make the year-end review more of a wrap-up than a comprehensive one-time event.

Clear your to-do list to start the new year

The lengthy to-do list for the fourth quarter may appear ominous at first glance. However, planning and preparation can allow for a happy and productive start to the new year. Follow these steps to lower your January stress:

  • Set a concrete schedule stick to it
  • Review your monthly tax records for employees
  • Look at your benefit plans to develop an easy-to-understand memo for employees
  • Gather the necessary information to conduct performance reviews

These tips will help you end the year right and look forward to the new year with peace of mind.

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