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Hello ABA Leaders,

One of my biggest projects each year is finalizing our annual calendar for the next year. This project usually begins in late summer. I have a personal goal of having it completed by October 1st each year for the next year. I think I’ve only met the deadline once (lol), and I usually have the calendar out by October 31st. Developing the calendar is a love -hate relationship because it sets the cadence for the following year. I spend hours color coding all of the dates and when I’m finally finished, there’s a feeling of relief and accomplishment that most other people can’t relate to except my fellow owners. When I shared my finalized calendar for 2023 in a facebook post last year, I realized many of us have this love-hate relationship and some of us don’t know where to start. 

In this blog, I’ll share my process of developing our annual calendar and how we use our calendar to guide our leadership team, employees, and parents throughout the year. 

We develop calendars for three different audiences:

  1. Employee Calendar. The employee facing calendar includes pay dates, holidays, breaks, and professional development days. 
  2. Family Calendar.  The Family facing calendar includes days we are closed for holidays, breaks, and professional development days. 
  3. Administrative Calendar. The admin facing calendar includes dates for payroll cutoff (if out of the norm), pay dates, breaks, professional development days, performance review deadlines, awareness months, recognition weeks and days, and dates that budget request items are due. 

Pre-planning for creating the annual calendar is a task that usually involves soliciting feedback from our leadership team, employees, and families. The things that I consider during pre-planning and creating calendar rough drafts are:

  1.  What holidays and awareness months will our organization recognize that will align with our organizational values as well as the traditions and values of our team members?
  2. How often will we provide professional development and what days will they be? Planning these out for the year helps to keep training prioritized and not an after thought. 
  3. When will my employees want off during the year to align their schedules with their child’s breaks? We provide paid breaks throughout the year. In pre-planning, we look at local area school districts to see when they have spring and fall breaks so that we can align our calendars and our team members can plan vacations with their families.

The development of an annual calendar assists us with these 10 things: 

  1.  Payroll & Pay-days. The employee calendar shows pay dates and is a great tool to give new employees to show them pay period end dates and when they will receive their first check. It’s also useful for our team members who handle payroll because they’re able to map out dates that banks are closed that could impact payroll processing. 
  2. Holiday Observations. We are able to communicate to our team months prior the holidays we observe. The holidays your agency observes sends a message to your team, families, and community about the values of your organization. As an agency, we observed Juneteenth by making it a paid holiday prior to 2020, and as a result, our employees and families recognized that diversity and inclusion were important to us as an agency. We also close one day in October to observe and recognize Hispanic Heritage Month. 
  3. Vacation Planning. Over the last 12 years in business, we’ve recognized that planned closing where everyone receives a collective break is best for our clients and team members. This also helps with scheduling by eliminating scheduling issues that surround planning around multiple vacations of employees and clients. Scheduling and communicating breaks at the beginning of the year is something that our team has said they enjoy and parents appreciate that the coordination of the breaks is typically at a time when siblings may also be out of school. 
  4. Professional Development Training. Having a plan for professional development for every member of our team is planned the year prior. Last year, we held a “Program Manager Retreat” and an “RBT Conference” that we will continue in addition to our monthly trainings. Having these planned out for the year and on the calendar keeps it at the forefront and makes training materials more meaningful. It also aides us in initiatives towards our Core Value of Clinical Excellence. Decide how you will provide professional development to your team and plan it out for next year. 
  5. Performance Reviews. Our technicians receive monthly performance reviews that are due by the 10th of each month. Some months, we’ve found ourselves unable to meet this deadline due to planned breaks or holidays. Pre-planning allows for us to communicate due date changes in advance and not create panic within the team.  Now is a great time to plan this out for your team as well. 
  6. Employee Events. It’s important for us to have events that intentionally create community amongst our team. We typically do two employee events each year- one in the summer (a baseball game, theme park, state fair, etc) and a Christmas Party. If you don’t have company traditions that your employees look forward to, start planning to make 2024 the year that you start. Our new employees- always say, “I heard the Christmas parties are fun” and they look forward to it each year. 
  7. Client/Family Events. We do awareness events twice per year for our families and the community. They have grown to where our community looks forward to our events and not just our families. We do a spring block party in April and a Fall Harvest Festival each October. Clients who have transitioned from our program look forward to coming each year. As a way to center the needs of your families and community, decide on an event and plan something epic for 2024.
  8. Awareness Months. On our admin calendar, we list out awareness months that our organization will recognize that align with the values of our organization, our team members, and our clients and families. Being proactive and knowing when these months are coming up allow us to plan marketing efforts, social media posts and campaigns, or ordering company swag items that incorporate the awareness month. 
  9. Appreciation Days. There’s no worse feeling than forgetting it’s an appreciation day for someone on your team. Our calendars help us to plan and provide meaningful recognition celebrations. We do Technician Appreciation Week the week of Teacher’s Appreciation Week and celebrate Administrative Professionals Day. Personally, I dislike the word “Boss” so have avoided celebrating it like the plague! Lol! However, we will celebrate our Leaders and rename the day as “Leader’s Day” for our team. 
  10. Budget. Last, but definitely not least important, is that having an annual calendar will assist you with budget forecasting. You will be able to see how many days per month your practice is open and project revenue. You will also be able to develop budgets for events, activities, professional development, and other things related to your practice. 

A template is available for you to download and plan your 2024 year. Hopefully, with the above information, you’ll be off to a great start. All that you have to do is plan your dates. add your logo, choose the colors you want to shade each day, and share with your team. 

Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.” 

Happy 2023 planning! 

Stay personable, professional, principled, and profitable!

Nikki Gray, MA, BCBA 

Download your 2024 Calendar Template today