The Impact and Scope of Gusto’s People Advisory Program

Gusto Editors

Do you offer options that make your clients’ employees happy at work?

The demand for a workplace that promotes happiness is continually growing. People want to know that their position is valuable and the work they do is appreciated. That is why it is essential to focus on your clients more than their books. Your clients should feel at ease with the idea of you helping them make significant business decisions that promote an excellent work environment.

That is why we at Gusto have partnered with CPA Academy to bring you the webinar “Reimagine Payroll: Transform Compliance Work into Recurring Advisory Revenue.” In this webinar,  our talented team members Jaclyn Anku and Caleb Newquist hosted a look at what it means to become a people advisor and how advising increases workplace happiness.

Jaclyn Anku is the Partner Education Manager at Gusto, who is passionate about educating small business owners to give them the tools they need to thrive financially. Caleb Newquist is the editor-at-large at Gusto and publishes the weekly newsletter, On the Margins, for accountants who like to work outside the lines of “normal” accounting.

In this article, we will look at how people-based operations impact clients, what makes employees happy at work, and how you can help your clients keep their employees happy. 

Employee happiness is essential to business

Great businesses take care of their employees. The highest-rated employers in the country have one thing in common—a great work environment. Many times, people are looking for happiness at their job above all else. Prospective employees are even willing to earn less if they know they will be happy at work.

“Companies with happy employees are 20% more productive. I know that when I am happy at work, I’m not checking other websites, I’m actually working. [Happiness at work] makes a tangible difference to what I do during my workday.”

– Jaclyn Anku

Happy employees increase the businesses’ productivity, but they also take fewer sick days from work. A sunny outlook toward work keeps employees from calling out for personal reasons like looking for another job. When employees are happy, they are focused on their work and want to help the business succeed.

“Employees who report being happy at work take ten times fewer sick days than unhappy employees. They probably take fewer sick days because they are not out looking for jobs and interviewing.”

– Jaclyn Anku
Happy Asian businessman talking to colleagues at meeting

In addition to increasing productivity and less time away from work, employees are willing to sacrifice pay for a better work environment. Many people want a job that makes them happy over a job that makes them money:

“36% of employees would give up $5,000 a year in salary just to be happier at work. Let that sink in for a moment. So many people work hard to pay for things like rent, childcare, and food. Yet folks are saying they would give up dollars in their bank to feel happier.”

Jaclyn Anku

The influence of happy employees is essential to having a successful business, so what can you do to help your small business clients maintain a healthy work environment? The answer is simple: concentrate your time on advising your clients. When you open the possibilities of people advisory, you gain the ability to help clients direct their businesses in a positive direction.

The impact People Advisory services can have on clients’ happiness

When you take a step back from your clients’ books and into the world of advisory, the possibilities for improving the entirety of your small business clients become apparent. Implementing people advisory services impacts the effectiveness of your clients and increases the influence of your firm.

“When you pair financial expertise with the knowledge of people operations, you can make recommendations that impact [your clients’] employees’ quality of life and happiness at work. That all feeds back into business results. Through people advisory, you can impact your clients, their employees, your firm, and your firm’s team. It is a virtuous circle that affects everyone in a positive way.”

– Jaclyn Anku

You may be asking, “How do I monetize a service like this, and what does the actual service of people advisory look like?” There are three major categories to address to answer those questions: payroll, employee benefits, and people operations. The combination of these services opens your firm to the possibility of becoming people advisors.

People advisory starts with payroll

Payroll services provide the backbone for people advisory services. Instead of looking at payroll as a simple transaction of money between employers and their employees, people advisors see it as a transfer of value between the two parties. The data gathered from payroll gives your clients insight into how they value their relationship with their employees.

“Payroll is foundational to people advisory because it’s foundational to how employers pay their teams, and what underpins that is the employer-employee relationship. Through people advisory, you can take a new approach to payroll where you help your clients realize their efficiencies, stay compliant, and strengthen their employer-employee relationship.”

– Jaclyn Anku

By using the lens of payroll to view the employer-employee relationship, your clients can see how pay affects the happiness of their employees. This viewpoint gives you the possibility to open conversations beyond payroll and into the world of benefits. 

Benefits make small businesses stand out

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 47% of small businesses with three to nine workers offer any form of health coverage. Considering that statistic, small businesses that provide health coverage to their employees provide a valuable benefit. When working as a people advisor, you gain the ability to guide your clients toward providing health coverage to their employees.

“A lot of clients think providing health care coverage for their employees is out of reach because it historically has been. As a people advisor, you can do great work by reframing the ‘why’ of benefits and help make benefits more accessible. You can help clients think about when and why to roll out benefits and get them in touch with the right resources [to succeed].”

– Jaclyn Anku
Two business woman sitting at modern office for meetings

The path forward into offering benefits may seem intimidating to your clients because of the cost, but you can give them peace of mind when you build trust in an advisory role. The foundation you make with your clients in payroll opens up the possibility for you to guide them down the path to provide employee benefits because they know you understand their financial position.

People operations provide a new view of human resources

People advisors can look at your clients’ financial data and see how this value transfer reflects company values. That data offers possibilities to help guide your clients’ teams to make positive decisions while working for your clients. As a result, you open the door for taking a more holistic approach to how your clients view human resources.

“Payroll and benefits are a value transfer from employer to employee, which brings us to people operations. People operations are decided by the policies and culture put in place to determine how the employees are valued; they reflect company values. So, as people advisors with financial acumen, you can analyze the story financial data is telling about people which leads to discoveries about teams and provides very practical tools to help clients manage the employee journey.”

– Jaclyn Anku

Instead of looking at HR as employee interaction, people operations give your clients the ability to see human resources as part of the bigger picture. The company environment begins with the value transfer of payroll and benefits reflected by how employees interact between themselves and toward the business. Overall, people operations provide your clients with a way to impact their employees and workplace happiness positively.

Learn more about the scope of people advisory and Gusto’s partner program

With any service offering, it is important to maintain proper scope. As a people advisor, you will not completely control your clients’ benefits and HR operations. What you are going to do is utilize your financial knowledge to guide clients to make wise financial decisions to offer an uplifting environment for their employees. 

“People advisory is focused on the financial impact of a business’ people, which speaks to the heart of what accountants are great at. It’s not HR services, legal services, benefits advisory, or employee management services. Here’s another way to think about it: People advisory is a team effort with you on the frontline delivering insight and backing it up with Gusto’s People Platform to provide a full-service solution.”

– Jaclyn Anku

If you enjoyed this article and would like more information about utilizing Gusto’s People Advisory Platform in your firm, be sure to watch the entire webinar here. Also, keep an eye out for Part One and Part Three of this webinar series as we take an even deeper look at Gusto’s services for our partners and their clients.

Our mission at Gusto is to help accountants and their clients gain peace of mind while on their financial journey. We partner with over 4,500 firms nationwide to promote financial security and develop a culture of empowerment in the office. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to connect with your clients beyond their finances. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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