For most of us, the end of the year comes with heightened activity at work as we complete critical projects before heading off to the holidays and spending much deserved time with friends and family. As an employee, you may have an end-of-year performance review to undergo — and to administer if you’re also a manager.
Besides being an occasion for reflection, the end of the year is also a time for looking ahead and strategizing for growth — for both your career and any people you manage. Robert Half Canada has put together a few tips for making the most of this hectic-but-cheery time of year. From preparing for your performance review to celebrating with your team, virtually or in person, you can cap off another year with promise and purpose. “As the year draws to a close, let employees reflect on their achievements and challenges, embracing the lessons learned. Managers, be the architects of inspiration, fostering a culture of gratitude and growth. Together, let's not just finish the year but lay the foundation for the next, with a shared commitment to excellence, collaboration, and the pursuit of new horizons,” shares Philippe Baron, Director of Contract Talent with Robert Half Canada.
The end-of-year review is not just a post-mortem on your accomplishments (and sometimes missteps); it’s an opportunity to reset or recommit to your career targets.
Take time to assess where you are on your career path and what you need from your manager to stay on track or accelerate your progress. This should be a two-way conversation, meaning you and your manager should be active, collaborative partners in your future. Organize your talking points in advance. Here are discussion topics to be prepared for: Reflection: Examine your performance from the last year and identify areas for growth. First, review significant accomplishments and contributions to your team and the company as a whole. Be very specific in your examples. Second, articulate areas of opportunity for your career. Highlight any training you have completed and research and request new training that would help with ongoing development.Feedback: Reach out to colleagues below and above you for feedback on your job performance (this can include projects, acumen, communication, etc.). This is an important step, so push your inhibitions to the side and ask for honest opinions from your coworkers. What you learn could be incredibly valuable. Your manager will also see your initiative as how much you value input from your team members. Appreciate the changes: Take stock of changes or shifts in your responsibilities and performance over the year. Be sure to focus on your work-life balance, the impact of flexible working conditions, and new skills and experiences gained during the last 12 months. Goals and aspirations: What is it you’re looking for next in your career? Perhaps a promotion and/or a salary increase? More responsibilities? What can your manager do to help get you there? Have some ideas ready to facilitate a productive conversation.Salary: Research market data for salary and bonus trends, as well as in-demand skills so you are prepared to negotiate for salary. The 2024 Salary Guide from Robert Half Canada is a good resource for this. At a minimum, you’ll be prepared to negotiate if compensation is discussed. You may also uncover new paths to the next step in your career.
To support morale and retain valued employees, managers should recognize employees throughout the year — but it’s most expected at the end of the year.  Even if your team is a combination of remote and in-office employees, there are many ways to recognize and reward your team and build engagement. The holiday bonus is a popular one, but there are many other engagement opportunities perfect for this time of year. Here are just a few: Give back to your community. This is a great team builder opportunity. Have your team vote on a charitable organization they would like to support and develop a fundraising or gifting activity in which they can physically or financially participate. You could directly help people or pets in need during the holidays, fulfill a wish list of items a charity needs, assemble activity or emergency kits, or create an online donation to support. For example, many Robert Half employees participate locally through organized volunteer initiatives that add up. All employee volunteer hours amount to a $15 per hour donation from Robert Half to Make A Wish.     Plan playful team events. Host an ugly holiday sweater contest, decorate gingerbread houses, organize a cooking class or events to learn about traditional holiday foods (Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa). These are just a few ideas that we’ve seen bring teams together in a fulfilling way, and they work well for virtual teams. Where possible, close operations early for holidays. This is one that almost everyone loves, and it resonates as the “gift of time”. A Robert Half survey of more than 1,100 professionals in Canada, found that 36 per cent of workers feel more burned out on the job compared to a year ago (2023). Many employees experience burnout and haven’t been able to take enough time away from work this year to spend with their families or focus on wellness for themselves. If you can offer your employees time off — and encourage them to turn off the computer and not check emails or calls — you’ll show how much you appreciate all the efforts they have put in this year.
Year-end goals should include planning for kickoff meetings with your team to start the New Year. For managers and staff alike, these meetings are a great opportunity to set the tone for the first quarter. What do you plan to accomplish? How do you plan to accomplish it?
Whether you’re running the meeting or attending, get the most out of these kickoffs by coming away with a roadmap to guide you in the first days and weeks of 2024. Next, take some time to reflect on what you and your team have accomplished together this past year. Finally, — and this is the most important item to check off your list — let go.  Intentionally step away from work for the holidays to recharge.   No matter your role in the organization, recharging is a task none of us can take for granted. Coming back to work refreshed, with renewed focus, helps the entire team start the year off strong. Robert Half Canada wishes everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season with hope for a joyful return in 2024, refreshed and ready for the challenges next year will bring.