You and your team know firsthand just how stressful year-end can be overall. And with lingering anxiety from the pandemic, it may be harder for your people this year.
Try three proven strategies to make year-end as trouble-free as possible. These tactics come straight from other Finance pros who’ve been in the same situation.
Year-end can be hectic not only because it’s crunch time for filing deadlines and audits, but because many employees take time off for the holidays.
With so many distractions during the end of the year, key year-end prep duties can fall by the wayside.
David Stone, the senior A/P manager at Encompass Health, decided to tackle that issue head-on. He began carving out time during the last two months of the year to check in with his staff about their holiday plans and current duties.
In November, Stone talks to his team to outline all upcoming deadlines and gather key info from them. This includes who’s taking time off and whether they’ve gotten other employees to cover any tasks with pressing deadlines, and whether they can meet the remaining deadlines once they return.
Then, in December, Stone checks in with his team again to confirm that everything’s still on track. Specifically, he’ll ask if there are any potential issues that may cause snags in the process or impact deadlines.
This process has helped him and his team stay one step ahead of any problems and remain on schedule.
Detailed year-end memo
It’s not only deadlines that can make life harder for Finance during year-end. Questions from employees can distract staff from working on critical tasks.
Inevitably, employees will start asking Finance about upcoming tax deadlines, forms and payments.
And they may also have questions about whether they’ll have to pay tax on gift cards they’ve received as holiday presents from your company.
To cut down on these requests, experts from the American Payroll Association suggest sending a “year-end memo” to employees.
The memo should address the most common question Finance receives around year-end. It can include detailed info about various tax forms, tax rates and tax brackets, and IRS’ new mileage rate. It can also include any updates Finance may need from employees (e.g., address verification).
It’s also helpful for the memo to contain info about what everyone should expect from Finance at the beginning of the year (e.g., when they should receive tax forms) and contact info in case employees have additional questions.
Teamwork via committee
To get all year-end tasks done on time, Finance will likely need to collaborate with several other departments in your company.
Example: Your team will need to make sure that your mailroom is ready to send out any paper tax forms or checks that need to be mailed at year-end.
Forming a year-end committee with members from each department can make this collaboration more seamless, according to Mary Brumm, the senior manager for global payroll at Nvidia Corp.
Ideally, the committee will meet at least once every two months throughout the year to discuss any new developments. You may need to schedule additional meetings as year-end draws closer.
Besides reps from A/P and Payroll, you’ll want someone from HR, Benefits and IT, as well as someone from your legal department and an employee from the mailroom.