As an HR manager, I find that many of the challenges I face in the workplace recur in similar patterns. What steps can I take to consistently improve our workplace practices in 2014?


The beginning of a new year is a great time to look at your HR practices and set realistic goals to help improve the functionality and performance of your company. Here are some resolutions that should help make 2014 a good year at your workplace.
1.  Documentation. This year, many people are replacing their traditional new year’s resolutions with a theme word to focus on throughout the year. Perhaps the most apt theme word for HR professionals in 2014 would be documentation. No matter what workplace issue you are facing, a paper trail is almost always helpful. Consistently taking and keeping substantive, detailed notes about the employment decisions you make, and why you made them is essential. When issues inevitably arise regarding some of those decisions, documentation about your thoughts and impressions at the time is a far more effective tool than faded recollections that may be colored by subsequent events.
2.  Update Your Employee Handbook. New laws passed in 2013 will require updates of most employee handbooks. Policies concerning nondiscrimination, retaliation, and disability benefits will need to be revised to comply with new laws. There are also new laws that will affect specific industries, including agriculture and youth sports leagues. It is prudent to review your employee handbook yearly to make sure it accurately states your company’s practices.
3.  Keep Pace with Health Care Reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “pay or play” rules go into effect in 2014. Employers with 50 or more “full-time” and “full-time equivalent” employees are classified as “large employers” who will be subject to non-deductible tax penalties unless they meet certain requirements. Work with your insurance broker or other appropriate professional to ensure your company is ready for healthcare changes. For more information visit
4.  Review Employee Classifications. Many employers conduct periodic reviews of workers to make sure they are properly classified as independent contractors, exempt employees, or non-exempt employees. These classifications are important to ensure compliance with tax laws and wage and hour regulations. Because workers’ duties can change over time, it is wise to reevaluate classifications periodically.
5.  Audit Time and Wage Records. California wage and hour laws require employers to keep detailed records of hours worked and wages earned by employees. Review your payroll policies to make sure you are following California’s rules when paying all wages owed to your employees. It is prudent to review the wage order applicable to your company and make sure your record keeping practices comply with the law. To access the wage orders, go to
6.  Maintain Accurate Personnel Files. Personnel files should include a signed job application or the employee’s resume, a job description (including the essential functions of the job), any offer letter or written terms of employment, the signed acknowledgement of receipt of the employee handbook, benefits information, the employee’s W-4 forms, and documents relating to the employee’s performance. The personnel file should not include I-9 forms or any medical information relating to the employee.
7.  Improve Communication and Collaboration. It is also important to review your company’s practices and philosophy regarding communicating with employees, and building a collaborative work environment.
Following the above practices is a wise way to start out the new year.