The best way to ensure that your business is successful in 2019 is tying up loose ends and closing out 2018 in the best way possible. That includes both setting up your business to be more efficient and reviewing employee performance so you can reward them for their successes, while encouraging their increased productivity and innovation. With a few simple steps, you can help make 2019 one of the best years for your business and your employees.

3 Steps for Optimal Year-End Planning

Follow the steps below to prepare for success in 2019.

1. Automate Your Billing

Almost a quarter of adults living in the U.S. don’t pay their bills on time. Automatic bill payment is an easy way to remedy this, so it’s hard to imagine why so many people don’t opt for automatic billing options—especially when you consider that nearly all collectors offer this option. Yet people continue to waste time paying bills manually and risk wasting money on potential late fees.

By automating your personal and business bills, you’ll not only save time and avoid late fees but you’ll also improve your credit score. Best of all, you can set up most of your bills for automatic payment in about the same amount of time it would take for you to pay one cycle manually. Here are three options to help automate your bill pay:

  1. Use your bank’s online bill pay option to transfer money to creditors.
  2. Authorize your credit card company to issue payments to collectors.
  3. Grant creditors access to your bank accounts, so they can automatically take payments.

2. Review Your Employees

There’s no law stating that managers must conduct employee performance reviews. From a legal standpoint, however, it’s wise to regularly discuss and document employee performance—say, in case you need to let someone go. With that said, employee reviews shouldn’t be held only for legal reasons.

Conducting an end-of-year review for employees is one of the best ways to both provide constructive feedback and praise them for their accomplishments. An end-of-year review can close the chapter of one year, so employees feel a sense of accomplishment and are ready to start the next year with fresh motivation, goals and focus.

Here’s a brief guide for conducting employee reviews:

  1. Schedule a time two weeks in advance to meet with your employees one-on-one. Let them know this is a standard employee performance review.
  2. Jot down notes ahead of time. Consider the employee’s previous goals as well as any feedback from coworkers and customers.
  3. Sit down with the employee to discuss how they performed in relation to their stated goals. Acknowledge any difficulty that was out of their control and keep it conversational.
  4. Frame criticism in the shape of a development goal, so your employee can see it objectively and in a way that shows them how to further their career.
  5. Allow your employee to speak and provide their own feedback. Remember that this is a conversation, not a lecture.

3. Reward Your Employees

Although some may believe that holiday bonuses are relegated to large corporations, they can actually go a long way towards helping boost employee engagement and motivation in smaller operations. Cash can be tight around the holidays. A surprise financial boost may be just what employees need to lift their spirits and feel appreciated for their efforts.

Businesses often give out bonuses based on:

  • Achievement of stated goals
  • Overall company’s performance
  • The number of years an employee has worked with the company

One of the most popular methods for distributing bonuses is rewarding employees with a percentage of their salary if they achieve their goals. This means that an employee who makes $50,000 a year with a target bonus of 5 percent would receive a $2,500 bonus, provided he/she achieved all their goals. This performance-based method of rewarding employees encourages them to achieve their goals and allows them to share in your company’s success.

And if you can’t afford to give bonuses, there are a number of ways to thank employees that do not involve bonuses.

Wrapping Up 2018

Don’t start the new year by trying to tie up loose ends from the year before. Help your business hit the ground running in 2019 by automating busy work, getting your employees in sync with your company’s goals, and showing them that hard work pays off by closing out 2018 giving great rewards.

Next Step

Save time by automating the payment of your small business’s business insurance premiums online at The Hartford’s Online Business Service Center.