The Importance of Workplace Planning for Your Clients

Gusto Editors

Do you offer your clients people and workforce-planning services?

Offering advisory services for your clients is an excellent way for your firm to improve its ability to assist clients while also bringing more value to your services. Workforce planning is the process through which organizations evaluate their employees in relation to productivity to make informed hiring decisions. Although your clients can always benefit from guidance in the hiring process, workforce planning is vital during times of economic uncertainty.

Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, delivered a webinar all about people and workforce planning titled “People Planning: Advising Your Clients with People-Focused Advisory Services.” You can watch the entire webinar here

The presentation featured the accounting and workforce-planning expertise of Will Lopez and Blake Oliver. Will Lopez is the Head of Gusto’s Accountant Community, and Blake Oliver is the Director of Marketing at Jirav. 

In addition to this article, which is Part Three of the webinar series, you can read Part One and Part Two. Part One discusses the process of people planning and how accountants can use it to help their clients, and Part Two explains six key performance indicators for people planning that you can use to assist your clients. 

This article shares helpful highlights from Will and Blake’s presentation to help you better assist your clients with workforce planning. You’ll learn about using people-planning KPIs and strategic workforce planning during periods of economic difficulty. Additionally, you’ll learn about how using an integrated Gusto and Jirav tech stack will optimize your ability to assist clients with accounting and workforce advisory.  

Using people-planning KPIs to assist clients during economic recessions

It’s important to assist clients through the hiring process when helping clients with workforce planning. This assistance includes determining who to hire and when to hire them and extends to helping clients suffering from employee turnover. Employees exiting a job can put more pressure on the remaining staff members, which can snowball into more employees leaving the business. 

Your ability to guide clients is especially critical during periods of economic uncertainty and recession. Blake discussed how people-planning KPIs are vital to determining the number of employees you need during periods of both economic growth and recession. The six critical people-planning KPIs your firm should be aware of are: salary-run-rate, profit-per headcount, revenue-per-full-time-equivalent (FTE), gross-margin-per-operation-FTE, operating-expenses-per-FTE, spend by department. 

Colleagues sitting in front of a computer and discuss about work.

For more information on KPIs, read Part Two of this webinar article series. You can use KPIs to assist your clients in making difficult business decisions related to their employees:

“What we want to know is: In an [economically prosperous] time, how many people can we hire? In a time of contraction, how many people can we keep on the payroll? … [These are] tough choices we have to make as business owners.”

Blake Oliver

During the COVID-19 lockdown, accountants played a vital role as advisors for their business clients. Numerous businesses struggled with difficult decisions regarding employees and layoffs, and accountants helped companies get through the crisis with KPIs and people planning. Regardless of the current economic situation, you can work with your clients to help them optimize their number of employees to increase revenue while also maintaining employee satisfaction.  

Strategic workforce planning

Assisting your clients with workforce planning is critical for their success, especially during times of crisis. Will noted that the root of workforce planning is communication: 

“Workforce planning is all about communication. It’s about taking the right data in, … analyzing it, and making sure that you are being very proactive for your client, whether in good times or bad times.”

Will Lopez

In addition to dealing with productivity and revenue, workforce planning is also critical for maintaining employee satisfaction. 

“Workforce planning also incorporates the sentiment side of things, which is making sure that your efforts and commitments … [work toward employee] wellbeing … [while also] maintain[ing] a high level of service.”

Will Lopez

Workforce planning centers around increasing revenue and productivity while working toward greater employee contentment. Strategic workforce planning is crucial for your firm, and it’s vital for advising your clients. 

“We really need to plan for the people that are so crucial … to this business, and this also includes the resources that they need in order for that business to hit the kind of metric that they need. … [You need to] think a little more widely when you think about financial planning and think about all the components as an advisor that could impact that financial planning.”

Will Lopez

Offering workforce planning is not only beneficial for your firm—it helps clients during times of economic uncertainty and hardship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to make incredibly difficult decisions regarding their staffing. Accountants used workforce planning to advise their clients through the situation to keep their businesses open and reduce layoffs. Workforce planning gives clients explicit guidance rooted in data and analytics, so companies can optimize their ability to hire and retain employees regardless of the economic conditions. 

“I think pretty much every business owner cares about their employees. The vast majority of business owners do not want them to struggle, but the business has to survive. It has to be able to come back [from financial struggles].”

Blake Oliver
Businesswoman presents business plan in the meeting room.

Will and Blake suggested six workforce planning steps they can use to guide clients.  While initially crafted to address the COVID-19 lockdown, these tips are equally relevant to any scenario where accounting work and communication are done remotely. Your guidance should include determining:

  1. How you will support new clients with remote client-onboarding tools
  2. How you intend to collaborate with their business at a distance
  3. Which solutions you will use to request needed e-Signatures for tax deadline timeliness
  4. Which online practice management tools you will use to keep projects on track
  5. How will you schedule remote meetings with your firm 
  6. What online file-sharing options you and your client will use to share the necessary individual and business documents

Using the Jirav and Gusto integrated tech stack

To help your clients with workforce planning and KPIs, consider implementing a workflow that integrates Jirav and Gusto. Jirav is an all-in-one workforce-planning software that offers forecasting, budgeting, reporting, and dashboarding. When implemented with Gusto, you’ll be able to establish yourself as an effective people and financial advisor for your clients. 

Will observed that the Jirav and Gusto integration provides accounting firms with flexibility and tools to advise your clients in people planning:

“What’s good about … the Jirav plus Gusto integration is that fully-loaded person cost … drops into Jirav, and then you can start messing with the components. … Then you can try to see, ‘Okay, what’s my fully-loaded person cost? How are we going to weather out what’s going on based on [the] shifting of work?’”

Will Lopez

A fully-loaded person cost is the total expenses a business pays for an employee, including salary, benefits, taxes, and overhead. The Jirav and Gusto integration works incredibly well for firms that work in forecasting trends for their clients. 

“If you’re in the forecasting business, … you basically [use] tech stack[s] in order to really [forecast] well. … Stack Jirav on top of Gusto as the people platform of choice. Let that integration talk to the accounting system, which obviously trickles into your AP modules as far as your payroll runs. … Jirav pulls all the data needed from Gusto directly and not from the ledger … in order for you to get that fully-loaded person cost correct.”

Will Lopez

The Jirav and Gusto integrated tech stack will enable your firm to seamlessly implement workforce planning and accounting services.

Learn more about workforce-planning tools

Offering your clients workforce-planning advisory services can help them improve their ability to manage their finances and hire employees more strategically. Workforce planning is critical regardless of the economic climate, but it is especially helpful for businesses that are struggling or facing an economic recession. You can improve your firm’s workforce planning and optimize your ability to assist clients by integrating Jirav and Gusto. 

If you want to learn more about workforce planning and advising clients, read Part One and Part Two of this webinar article series. You can also watch the entire webinar here

The most effective way you can begin incorporating workforce planning into your firm is by partnering with Gusto and integrating Jirav. When you become a Gusto partner, you get exclusive access to tools, KPIs, employee surveys, and other resources to support your clients into the future. Streamline payroll and benefits, and start advising your clients in valuable new ways. Join Gusto’s Partner Program today.

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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