It’s the start of a new year. Many people are returning to work in the New Year with fresh enthusiasm, together with some personal and business resolutions which they are hoping will last longer than their new gym membership. Richard Branson’s personal resolution for 2018 is “to get unbelievably fit so I’m ready for a trip … into space. I’ll also be doing some centrifuge g-force training so I’m as acclimatised as I can be for the journey.”

Difficult to beat that.

Leaving aside the personal New Year’s resolutions, as an HR department or a business owner, what goals should you consider for the year ahead?

The Top 10

  1. The GDPR. Get your business ready for the new EU General Data Protection Regulation. The deadline is fast approaching; 25 May 2018 is D-Day. The risk for non-compliance can be very expensive, up to the greater of €10 million and 2% or €20 million and 4% of the annual total worldwide turnover of the undertaking, depending on the type of breach. Is there a plan in place internally or do you need to employ external support?
  2. Review staffing levels for the year ahead in the business by department, taking into account Brexit and financial predictions. Do you need to recruit more people or keep onto those you have? Or if the outlook for 2018 is looking bleak, do you need to consider restructuring or redundancies? Are there any problem staff who need dealing with (e.g. under-performers or trouble makers)? Are there any retirements/maternity leave absences to plan and seek further cover/recruitment for in the year ahead?
  3. Gender pay gap reporting. Is your business ready for this? Employers caught by the gender pay gap reporting requirements have to publish their report by 4 April 2018, or 30 March 2018 if they are a public-sector employer. The report needs to be uploaded to the company’s own website and a government website, allowing full public access to the data.
  4. Review all employment documentation. Are your current employment contracts and staff handbook legally compliant and giving your business sufficient protection? When were they last reviewed and by whom? Consider seeking independent employment law advice and an in-depth review of all contracts and employment policies and documentation to ensure they are up to date and communicated effectively to all staff and offer sufficient protection to your business. With the removal of tribunal fees in 2017 it is expected that more employees will make claims in 2018 and so legally strong contracts and policies are essential.
  5. Flexible working. Do you need to consider a more flexible work force and ways of working for cost-saving, retention and productivity improvements? Do you have a policy in place or do you need to implement or update one?
  6. Training. Do you and/or your line managers need training as the main person or persons dealing with HR – whether it is for employee engagement or on employment law or to further your CIPD development? It’s not easy having to deal with HR issues and people management generally, and the law is constantly changing. Consider staffing levels within your HR department and/or what external support is also required to ensure you are able to deal with HR and employment law issues as commercially and effectively as possible.
  7. HR software providers. Consider using an HR software provider to simplify and automate people management processes and documentation including holidays, sickness, recruitment, expenses and performance management. This will make your life easier and allow easy access to such information and the ability to run reports to assist with HR processes and investigations. It will also allow restricted access to employees so they can be better informed about their holiday/performance and personal data.
  8. Improve wellbeing in the workplace. Consider improving wellbeing and health in the workplace for all (e.g. encourage fitness and holidays, and improve mental health) to reduce absenteeism and enable a happier and more productive, engaged and valued workforce.
  9. IT. Working with your IT department or external IT provider, ensure that your business data and security and IT systems and disaster recovery program are sufficiently robust to prevent data security breaches. Do you have a legally robust IT policy in place?
  10. Social Media. Review, monitor and update your business social media footprint on a regular basis, including use by your employees, subject to relevant legislation. Do you have a robust and legally compliant social media policy in place?

What to do next?

Consider what your resolutions for 2018 will be regarding HR issues in your business and the timeline needed to implement them, and make a record of and diarise the action points after discussing and agreeing them with the relevant people in your business.

Seek specialist advice when under-resourced or lacking in expertise, and consider your budget for legal/external support for 2018 as this could be money well spent in terms of reducing cost and risk to your business.

Ultimately, however, as Richard would say, it’s down to us individually to make our resolutions happen in 2018, so I strongly suspect he will be in space before the end of the year. Where will your business be?

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.