New year new start 2015So the tinsel’s down and memories of questionable behaviour at the office party are fading. Now is the time to look back at last year’s successes, challenges and developments, and look ahead at planning the coming year in your business.

Looking back

Planning future action is always easier if you review what’s happened in the past first. So look back at last year in your business. What employee challenges did you encounter? How did you deal with them, what was the outcome and could you have handled them differently or better?

Review your absence records for the year. Spotting patterns in absence is tricky if you are not completely on top of absence rates, and if you find this challenging while in the midst of doing everything else involved in running your business, taking the time to look back at attendance for the year as a whole may highlight patterns or trends in absences rates, or levels of absence that were in fact higher than you thought they were.

Look at your staffing structure, roles and responsibilities. Did the current structure and different roles you have meet the requirements of your business during last year? Were there difficulties or confusions about who was responsible for what? Were there areas of responsibility which were not adequately covered or by the right person?

Hopefully you are doing performance reviews during the year, but take the time to think about how each team and each employee performed last year. Where were the dips in performance, and do you know why?

Looking forward

If you don’t have a simple structure chart, consider drawing one up. Will the structure and roles you have in place now enable your business to meet the challenges and goals you have for this coming year? If not, consider whether any restructuring or other changes would be sensible, and consider seeking advice about how doable this is, and what steps you will need to take.

Are there technological changes which might help – new software or systems which might fill gaps or improve efficiency? What impact would these have on staff?

Look at your staff, are there any on probation at the moment? Do you have anyone approaching retirement age? Are there any maternity leaves or other family leaves coming up that you know about? Schedule all of this into your calendar, to ensure you deal with them in a timely manner and have the appropriate conversations early enough. Consider these upcoming changes in the light of the structure and business needs you have for the coming year and take them into account when planning.

Consider whether there are any business changes coming up during the year which you know about. These might include developments in the marketplace you operate in, potential changes in suppliers or clients, new areas you want to branch out into or aspects of your business that are not doing so well and which you might step back from. There might be upcoming economic, legislative or regulatory developments which affect your business. All of these are likely to have staffing implications, and you need to be on top of them.

Looking ahead and planning your year well, and incorporating into your business plans actions you need to take in respect of staffing issues will help reduce the likelihood of difficulties. Planning well will enable you to ensure your workforce is exactly what your business needs this year; performing at a high level, fit for purpose, fulfilling the responsibilities you need and meeting the demands of your customers successfully, efficiently and in a cost effective way.

If you have any further queries and need some advice,

do get in touch.