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Whew. The first quarter of the New Year is always rough. There is so much to do— normal work, extra work, curing the post-holiday slump, motivating your team. For those of us in human resources, management, leadership or ownership roles, we have may have required reporting to add to the already long list of items that must get done. Are you compliant? The pressure is on to hit deadlines but also to continue on with plans and goal-setting. Where should you start?

Let’s review a list of items that if completed, can help you stay compliant but also get ahead of the curve and cruise into 2018. These tips for success will see you through your first quarter and into the rest of 2018.

Reports. At this point in the year, you should be finishing up on several mandatory required reports. Let’s speak first about ACA reporting, more commonly known as 1095s (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Form). These are provided to employees and also the data is reported to the IRS. Forms are due to employees by March 2. The filing is due electronically to the IRS by March 31. Employers with more than 50 full-time equivalents must report.

EEO-1 reporting. The long-standing deadline has changed from September to March. So you didn’t miss anything – you did not file in September of 2017. Instead, you are filing for the due date of March 31. Remember those that need to file are private entities with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees and government contracts in excess of $50,000. You should be categorizing your jobs into EEO categories already but make sure that you are using the correct ones (not old ones). This report is filed directly on the Department of Labor’s website. More information can also be found on the Department of Labor’s website.

Audit preparation. The first quarter of the year is the perfect time to look at your audit schedule for the year. Depending on your industry, many of us are certified in certain ways. You may be ISO certified or have quality certifications. Why wait until the 11th hour to prepare? Urge your organization to begin audit preparation now and build that into your everyday management and goal-setting processes. If this is not possible, you and your team can certainly begin preparations even if the entire organization is not ready for full preparations. Audits are stressful enough without waiting until the last second to find out that you are not properly prepared.

HR processes. Human Resource audits are crucial and should be started soon to gain best results. You do not have to have a full-time or even part-time human resource person to do this. This type of audit allows you to check for HR processes that should be in place. These processes serve a purpose and many do not fully understand the reason until it is too late. HR is vast and no one is perfect. Pull a sample HR audit from an online template and try it out. Work your findings into your goals for the year.

Setting goals. Another best practice for 2018 is goal-setting for self and staff. Do you set goals for yourself and your staff? Goals tied to business results as well as three professional goals are a must for all employees. These goals can be easily set using the SMART goal setting technique:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Timely or Time-bound

This is still the best template for goal-setting and is used in organizations today. Set a time and work with your team to create these goals. If you do not have a team, you can do this on your own. Set the goals and take them to your boss.

New year. Ensure that you have wrapped up your evaluations from last year and now have launched your new process for this year. If you are not that far along, step back and at least put a system in place. If you don’t have a system in place, put this on your immediate to-do list ASAP. This system does not have to be fancy. Work on this and make it a priority. Best practice dictates goal setting early in the year, a mid-year evaluation and an end-of-year final recap evaluation. Raises and money need not be tied to this but it can be. Performance talks can happen more frequently and honestly, they should.

Your homework for next time:

This is a journal exercise and before you groan too loud — give it a try. You may just like it. Take out some paper and truly focus on the following few items.

What do you wish to accomplish this year as a professional? What opportunities do you have to improve on? How can you improve yourself this year? What tools do you need to make this happen? (Take a moment to reflect on these items and write out your answers).

Angela Holmes is a SHRM certified human resource expert, writer and public speaker with over twenty years of human resource experience.  She has hired thousands of people across many industries.  Angela graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Illinois State University.  Angela also attained a Master’s degree in Education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Workforce Education and Development program.  Angela strives to give relatable workplace feedback using a common sense approach.  Angela is the Vice President of Human Resources at National Railway Equipment Co. (NRE) and can be reached at, follow her on Twitter at @Angela_Holmes_1 and Instagram at @aholmes91


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