This time of year tends to be a fan favorite, with pumpkins, family gatherings and relaxed holiday vacation days. However, there is a select group of people who dread certain aspects of this time of year like the plague: those with the responsibility of budgeting and planning for the next year. The fourth quarter can be a stressful time for HR professionals as it can be extremely overwhelming to strategically plan and budget for an entire year, all while forecasting challenges and opportunities the next year will bring.
For those who have a tough time with these tasks, I feel your pain. There are so many other daily responsibilities to tend to that even though you may have a solid grip on the strategic plan for your organization, putting it down on paper and backing it up with numbers tends to fall to the bottom of your list. In fact, my budget, strategies and goals typically fall in the for-my-eyes-only category, simply because it’s difficult to find the time to create formal documents for these.
To make things even more difficult, most HR managers and directors are often required to justify each dollar they allocate and even the role of HR and recruiting within the organization. Anyone who has been through this knows the closest thing it compares to is going to battle, defending every number to the death. (Ok, slight exaggeration, but you know it’s close.)
Even though organizing and justifying are necessary components of planning your budget for the next, it doesn’t have to be something you dread. Utilize these four steps to make the most of your year-end planning:
- Start by taking a look at last year’s budget. To get a panoramic view, include the last three to five years’ budgets. This helps with forecasting trends and allocating additional dollars. Categorize wins or losses for the year by using metrics such as hiring conversion, source of hire and turnover to determine where future opportunities may lie. It’s one thing to use opinion to measure success but the best measurement is one that is quantifiable. This will especially help when it comes time to justify a new budget.
- Hear from your team to get an idea of where their passions currently lie and which areas they saw strength or weakness in within the last year. While it can sometimes be hard to let go of the reigns, there is nothing better than passionate people with ideas. Use this to your advantage.
- Lean on your peers to identify industry trends and regional quirks, affirm gut feelings or suspicions and brainstorm. This is the perfect time to gather a few friends in the industry to talk about what they’re seeing within their organizations. Aside from being able to gain some serious insight and great ideas, get togethers, meetings and conversations with industry peers can be inspiring and affirming. There’s no better time to get refueled than right before you head into a new year.
- Talk with your executive team to see where their focus will be in the next year. In order to create a balanced hiring plan and strategy, it’s vital that you know what initiatives the organization will be focusing on. The HR department’s role is critical to success of your company, so it’s important to have a seat at the table when discussing organizational planning. Ideally, the executives within your organization are well aware of the behind-the-scenes benefits and return on investment you bring.
This year, leave the doom and gloom behind and make your fourth-quarter planning a time to reflect on the ups and downs of the year, evaluate what went well and what didn’t, research new programs and brainstorm strategies for success.
How do you handle fourth-quarter planning? Let us know in the comments section below.