2020 was not a normal year with the onset of COVID-19, which impacted businesses in so many unexpected ways.  If you have not done so already, take time now to really think about the following areas of your business so you will be ready and prepared for year-end.  Now’s the time for your company to consider implementing changes, if applicable, for 2021:   

Working Remotely

With so many companies in 2020 shifting their employees to work from home, do you know how you want to handle this practice in 2021?  How are you measuring the productivity of your employees?  Have you maintained regular communication channels with your managers and staff to maximize employee engagement?   

Office or Company Safety

How have remote workers affected your office needs?  In looking at your office or retail space, can you reduce the space or move the office to lower your commercial real estate costs? 

Have you implemented alternative work office schedules and/or reconfigured your office space?  Have you implemented return to office policies and procedures to ensure safety and employee comfort?  Do have enough proper ventilation to keep your employees and/or customers safe?  Are you continuing to have enough hand sanitizer and limits on how many people can use the space at one time?  

Since masks are often required to keep people safe while indoors, how will you implement this policy for your business?  Will you have extra masks on hand for people as they enter your store, office or restaurant?   Will you require employees and visitors to complete a health screen (temperature read, certifying health status) before entering the work space?  If so, how are you planning to implement?

Employee Rightsizing

During the pandemic, due to lost revenue, your business may have streamlined the number of employees.  What is the optimal number of employees needed to move forward as business picks up?  Do you have the right number and type of managers and staff?  What is your company’s succession plan?   

Answer Human Assets (AHA) is available to help you with any of these COVID-related issues.  Our experienced HR professionals can talk to you about how these important areas impact your company and your bottom line.

In addition, companies, in general, need to address the following items before year-end: 

Benefits Review

With health insurance being so important during this health crisis, are you offering the appropriate plan(s)?  Take time to review your plan and decide if you want to make any changes.  If so, communicate any adjustments to your employees and schedule open enrollment for your employees.

Performance Review

Since you want to have the most effective and productive employees, make sure you have an employee review process in place that reflects the needs of your company.  Conduct evaluations for each employee and manage out the under-performers.  Think about succession planning and evaluate employees for possible promotions. 

Cares Act and Retirement Plans

If you modified your retirement plans and allowed employees to take a “coronavirus-related distribution,” remind your employees that they are exempt from the 10% early withdrawal tax.  Instead of being subject to income tax upon receipt, taxation of these distributions may be spread out in equal parts over three years beginning in 2020.

Also, alert your employees that the CARES Act temporarily waives required minimum distributions from retirement accounts for participants who were required to receive such distributions in 2020.

Other Important Year-end Items 

  1. Make sure your payroll is coded correctly for any eligible Expanded Sick and FMLA leaves taken as allowed under the CARES act.
  2. Establish and distribute your holiday schedule for 2021.
  3. Verify all employee data for payroll and employees’ W2s including ex-pat packages, any other taxable non-cash income and 1099s.
  4. Distribute W-2s to all employees by January 31, 2021.
  5. Remind employees to review Form W-4 withholding information and make adjustments if number of dependents, exemptions or filing status has changed.
  6. Determine the effective date for any bonus payments and/or salary adjustments for 2020 or 2021.
  7. Review and determine training needs for the coming year.
  8. Verify that you conducted the mandated sexual harassment trainings for this year.
  9. Encourage employees to use their Flexible Spending Account (FSA) money before December 31st.   Remind employees of any rollover amounts or grace period related to your FSA plan.
  10. Conduct an HR audit.  Determine that your company’s policies are in compliance with federal, state and local employment laws.  Review your employee handbook and update as needed to ensure clarity and compliance.
  11. Implement retention policies for your records.  Retain documents only as long as legally required.

Answer Human Assets has the human resource expertise to assist your small to mid-sized company.  Please contact us today at spanzer@ahahr.com to discuss any of these issues.  We would be happy to help you in the short or long-term.  To learn more, go to our website at www.ahahr.com.