Common knowledge has it that accountants and benefits don’t mix. If a client comes to you with a question about their benefits package, the traditional response has been to send them packing to their licensed benefits advisor. 

So it raises the question: what role can a people advisor play? 

A critical one, actually. Until clients understand why benefits matter and how they relate to their business success, they might not connect with a broker in the first place. And that’s where you come in. 

The concept of People Advisory is based on the idea that people are at the heart of every business. Businesses are more likely to succeed when they empower their employees because those employees are, in turn, more likely to stay for the long haul. People advisory is an absolute game-changer for small business owners and their teams having access to benefits.

People advisory and benefits 

Through the people advisory framework, you have the opportunity to make an outsized impact on your clients, their employees, and the families they support. By tapping into your knowledge of clients’ goals and financials, you can guide them on: 

  • why benefits matter, and
  • when and how they can develop an affordable and holistic benefits package that supports employees’ physical and financial wellness.

As with any advisory service, it is important to understand what’s in scope and equally important to define what’s out of scope. This is especially true of people advisory and benefits: 

  • only licensed benefits advisors—like Gusto—can make representations about health insurance products and
  • provide advice on which benefit options to choose. 

Put another way: people advisory is a team effort. You help clients understand why benefits matter and how they align with business goals, and Gusto will help them with benefits set-up, open enrollment, and ongoing administration.

Meeting the needs of today 

Because of the pandemic, businesses have to rethink how they manage costs and how they can take care of their team. A recent Willis Towers Watson survey found that despite some companies reducing costs through furloughs and pay cuts, nearly half of employers are enhancing healthcare benefits and broadening wellbeing programs in order to take care of employees’ physical and financial needs.  

Employees’ needs are higher than ever, while at the same time, clients’ economic and business outlook couldn’t be any more uncertain. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70% of small businesses are concerned about financial hardship due to prolonged closures, and 58% worry about closing permanently. 

No-cost, low-cost, and premium benefits 

To meet the needs of both employers and employees, we’ve developed a suite of no-cost, low-cost, and premium benefits. Employers of all sizes no longer have to make trade-offs and can instead build a benefits package that balances the needs of their team with the economic realities of the current business climate.

Premium benefits 

Let’s start by taking a look at Gusto’s premium benefits, which include: 

  • Small Group Health Insurance (medical, dental, vision)
  • Life and disability insurance
  • Flexible spending accounts (health, limited purpose, and dependent care)
  • Health savings account
  • Commuter benefits

These benefits represent the gold standard and should be core to a robust benefits package. However, their cost can put  them out of reach for many clients. As their people advisor, you can explain that benefits sit on a spectrum of cost and impact. If premium benefits are out of reach, clients can get started with low-cost and no-cost offerings. 

Low-cost benefits 

This brings us to our next category, which is: low-cost benefits—low-cost for the employer and high value for the employee:

Employers commit to a modest monthly fee but have flexibility in deciding to contribute above and beyond that.  

By framing these benefits as being “low-cost” and “high impact,” you help clients connect employees with financial and physical care while managing cash flow and other considerations. You can also help clients understand that low-cost does not equate to low value. Employer-provided benefits are significant to both employers and employees because they are a reflection of the employer’s company culture and a tangible representation of how they care for their team. 

No-cost benefits

No-cost benefits cost nothing to the employer to provide. There’s no set-up fee, no administration fee, and no contribution to contend with. Gusto’s no-cost benefits are:  

  • Cashout
  • Cash Account (aka Savings)
  • Paycheck Splitter

Each helps employees access, manage, and save their paycheck to increase the opportunity for  financial stability and security, which is foundational to employees being able to do their best work. When your clients offer Gusto’s no-cost benefits, they help their employees reduce dependency on predatory debt, automate savings, and avoid overdraft and ATM fees—so they can focus on building a better financial future.  

By building clients’ awareness of no-cost, low-cost, and premium benefits, you help ensure that their benefits offering conveys how much they care for their team. 

People advisory journey

Educating clients on no-cost, low-cost, and premium benefits and ensuring they understand why providing benefits matters is one of the best ways to support them as a people advisor. The impact of your advice ripples out from your clients to their employees to the families they support. The ripple effect starts with you, and it’s grounded in our shared belief that people matter.  

The best way to get started with people advisory is by becoming People Advisory Certified. You’ll build your confidence, knowledge, and skillset in people operations best practice and dive deeper into employer-sponsored benefits. If you’re already certified, read the People Advisory Playbook. Written by our Head of Accountant Community, the playbook details best practices on pricing, managing, and selling people advisory services. Whether you’re just getting started or are already a people advisory expert, we’re here to support you throughout your journey. 

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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