Gusto Next is our annual conference that celebrates our community through serving up thought-provoking keynotes, interactive breakout sessions, and a chance to build community and share expertise, all while staying ahead of industry trends—and having a little fun while we’re at it. 

This year, with a theme of Unlocking Possibility, we focused on unlocking the talent you need to grow—both across the country and around the world. We focused on leveraging incredible new technologies to unlock scale. And we focused on unlocking your team experience by putting people back at the center of your business. With Next in a Nutshell, we’ve distilled the key takeaways from each of those themes to give you actionable insights for your business in the coming year. 

Dive into our first theme below: unlocking talent. 


The talent shortage is real. With the lowest unemployment rate in decades, and more people choosing to transition to freelance or start their own businesses, there simply aren’t enough humans for the jobs out there. 

unemployment rate
accountants have turned away new business because they can’t find talent 
new jobs for every unemployed person 

The good news for those looking to hire is that new hire pay has come back down by 7% since skyrocketing up 10% post-pandemic. Which means you can find the people you need without paying an arm and a leg. And the quit rate is down 14%, showing that workers are becoming less confident that the grass is greener somewhere else. 

Even so, it’s time to start thinking outside the box in terms of who you hire, how they work, and how you retain the talent at the core of your business. There has never been a more critical time for your business to invest in retention, benefits, career development, and compensation. 


Expanding the talent pool

Global, fractional, and freelance employment

If you’re one of the many businesses struggling to find the talent they need, the first step is to cast a wider net. This means hiring remote, hiring part-time, hiring across state lines, across international borders, and even broadening your horizons as to who might fit the bill.

The future is remote

As companies are forcing returns to the office, many employees are choosing to work at companies that let them keep the flexibility they’ve come to both rely on and love. 

of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time
feel they are more productive working from home 
increased retention for employers who offer remote work 

While managing remote employees can seem daunting for some SMBs, the remote transition is a net positive for your business. It means you have access to more talent around the country and around the world than ever before.  

As a Main Street SMB, you might be used to having your appointments or finances handled in-house. But some of this work could be handled by a virtual assistant or bookkeeper living in another county or state.

The future Is fractional

If you can’t find a full-time employee to cover your needs, start looking at fractional employees to share the load. If you had one person handling all your social media marketing, maybe you could hire two part-timers on a freelance basis. Freelance employees also add increased flexibility for your business if you need to quickly cut back on hours.

PRO TIP: You can also start looking to folks with non-traditional backgrounds. Just because you don’t have a degree in accounting doesn’t mean you can’t learn the skills to manage the books. Finding a capable person with a good culture fit is more important than someone who’s already been trained on whatever app or platform your business relies on. 

The future is global

And finally, it’s time to go global. The global talent pool is both massive and massively cost effective. Fifty-four percent of college graduates come from emerging markets, and ten percent of remote or hybrid businesses already have international employees. This number is going to continue to grow. 

Gusto is on a mission to enable SMBs to easily hire anyone, anywhere, anytime—which is why we’re rapidly expanding support for international contractors AND employees:

  • State tax & new hire registration in all 50 statesLook for talent anywhere in the US from coast to coast without added complexity. Every state has different tax and registration requirements, and it can be nearly impossible for a small business to navigate on your own. We’ve got you covered. 
  • International contractor paymentsWe started support for international contractor payments in 2021 with 30 countries, and we’ve expanded that support to 120+ countries around the world. This talent pool is enormous, and now you can access that talent without adding complexity.
  • Gusto Global – Powered by Remote, Gusto Global is here to handle everything you need to hire, pay, and manage employees all around the world. This includes payroll, benefits, stock options, and local tax and regulatory compliance. We become the employer of record (EOR) in every country you want to hire. Gusto Global is starting in beta in Canada, and will soon roll out to all the countries where Remote currently operates—more than 80 countries around the world.  

Making it work

We know hiring remotely and internationally can come with its own pitfalls. Fifty-one percent of accountants said remote work makes mentorship or professional development of staff more difficult. So how do you set remote and international teams up for success? With intention. 

  • Skills – Can they do the thing you need them to do or can you train them to do it? 
  • Culture – Culture in other countries can be vastly different from American work culture. How will you mesh the two? 
  • Availability – Will they be working US hours or on their own local time? 

Three Ms for new hires: 

Medium: Is it in person? Can you adequately train a new hire who can’t be present in the office? 

Molding: You have to be able to give continuous feedback, and being present at the same time is important for this. How will you handle this for asynchronous team members?  

Modeling: How do you model what good client service or good management is so your team can learn and grow? Even virtually, you can have up-and-coming staff join for client calls and zooms. 

Find the time for face-to-face

As Carla Caldwell says, “Save on the office space, splurge on the get-together.” 

Getting together builds trust. It helps you understand your team members, and helps maximize benefits while minimizing interpersonal difficulties. It may be difficult or expensive to get everyone together—and it may be nearly impossible for international hires in places like Africa or Southeast Asia—but finding a way to build those in-person connections makes a huge difference in the success of your team. Even just a zoom happy hour where work is off the table can help for colleagues working across oceans and continents.  

There’s no one way to build a successful distributed team. You have to be a skilled evaluator to figure out what works for your firm and your culture. International teams may not be able to provide the service you need in the way you need it, and that’s okay. But understanding what your business needs, what can work, and how and where you can adapt is the first step to opening doors to the talent you need to grow. 

Watch the replays 

Take a deeper dive into the Gusto Next speeches that help you Unlock Talent: 

Liz Wilke – The economy explained: Tight talent, tighter wallets with Liz WilkeIngrid Bernaudin – Gusto goes global: Breaking down borders in the workforce revolution with Ingrid Bernaudin

And for the full slate of Gusto Next content, head over to

Jaclyn Anku Jaclyn is the Partner Education Manager at Gusto. She started her career as a small business consultant and is passionate about teaching small business owners financial literacy and arming them with great advice. Before joining Gusto, she led business education for accountants and bookkeepers at Xero. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Oakland, CA.
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