The seasons of HR
It’s cold, wet and windy in New Zealand and even though winter isn’t officially supposed to start until June, it’s pretty much arrived.
I used to love to see the seasons change on our property in Warkworth.
But winter arriving made me think about the different types of tasks HR have to do for the different seasons.
Cold short dark days with barely a public holiday in sight (thank you to the Queen for having a birthday in June!). It’s no wonder many NZ’ers head to Fiji, or Hawaii or somewhere warmer for a week or two to get their sun fix.
For HR I’ve always found winter tasks can include:
- Advising managers on leave balances (for those mid-winter getaways)
- Reporting on sick leave. This is when you want to monitor if your flu jabs worked, and if your wellness initiatives are helping with people’s sickness over winter.
- Promoting keeping healthy – soup days, handwashing competitions if the flu does hit your workplace, stair climbing challenges etc.
- Running lots of training. When it’s cold and dark, everyone is pleased to learn something new to cheer them up. It’s often the busiest time for the Management Bites programme because of this and because mid year can be when you have to do performance reviews and remuneration.
- Performance Review and Remuneration review processes – all the communications, planning and processes can be quite complex.
- If there are storms that create power cuts or snow means people can’t get to work, you may have to do some BCP types processes.
In a few months, spring will arrive and the promise of summer! HR tasks can include:
- Advising managers on leave balances (for planning for summer)
- Reviewing strategic plans and advising on goal setting for the new year (if your performance year runs from 1 July)
- Many HR teams I’ve worked with review and relaunch the wellness programme in spring for the next 12 months.
Summer in NZ is strange as it coincides with Christmas. So in December everyone is preparing to take summer and Christmas holidays at the same time! This means for HR things can get frantic and tasks can include:
- Advising on Christmas and summer events (Christmas party policies, company shut down dates etc) and dealing with issues that can crop up when general end of year stupidity hits.
- Frantically trying to finish everything that you had planned for the second half of the calendar year.
- When you’re back from summer holidays, doing a clean out of files, emails etc.
- Putting out communications to try and focus everyone back on business (good luck with that!) and overcome the back to work blues
- Dress code can be an issue if there are really hot days and people decide to wear beachwear to the office
- The beginning of the year is when people look for a new job having set themselves new years resolutions. So you may find there is turnover and you have to focus on recruitment and engagement.
Then hopefully after a lovely summer, the leaves start to turn and it gets colder in the evening and HR tends to turn to the following:
- Organising flu jabs
- Reviewing HR strategies and programmes. Training programmes often die off during summer, but autumn is when many HR and L&D teams reset their strategy, conduct training needs and think about programmes for the winter.
- Many companies I’ve worked with run engagement surveys around March/April, which most often sits in the HR team to organise and run.
- Induction of all the new employees that you’re bringing onboard or working on engagement projects that come out of the engagement survey.
- Attending professional development themselves! There are lots of conferences in the first few months of the year so making sure you attend something to keep yourself up to date.
- The minimum wage goes up on 1 April –so for HR and payroll teams in some industries there is a project to update this for everyone.
Of course for the northern hemisphere some of the seasons of HR will be different, with Christmas being in winter (such a better idea!)
I’d love to hear if there are other tasks that you find you do at the same time each year. What’s missing from the seasons of HR?
Angela Atkins is the Chief Executive of APPNZ – The Association of People Professionals. She is passionate about supporting all the people professions (HR, Learning, Payroll and Talent) and is also the best selling author Management Bites and the bites series of books and Director of the Management Bites Global Training programme.