Are you equipped to help your clients boost employee performance through HR functions?
Potential hires and current team members want to know their employer cares about their well-being. From efficient payroll services and benefits packages to employee performance reviews, the right human resource policies can make the difference between a happy team or a discontented workforce. As CPAs, you are in the unique position to provide clients with the tools they need to serve their employees with exceptional HR services.
At Gusto, we believe your firm should place people advisory services at the core of how you serve your clients. One crucial part of advising clients is ensuring their team has the necessary human resources tools. That’s why we have partnered with our friends at CPA Academy to bring you the webinar, “Getting Started With HR Advisory Services.” In this webinar, we take a look into how you can better serve your clients through HR services and give their team peace of mind.
Our very own Caleb Newquist presented this insightful webinar. Caleb began his career as an active CPA and spent time in both New York and Denver. He is also the founding editor of Going Concern, a resource with unique insights into the accounting profession, and currently works as the Editor-at-Large at Gusto.
This article covers the importance of providing human resources functions for your clients, how to help them create effective HR systems, and what it looks like to serve your clients with human resource systems. We have a lot of information to help you provide clients with a better employee experience—let’s get started!
Help your clients perform an HR fitness test
Before you dive into helping clients restructure their human resource functions, you need a baseline for how they presently run HR services. Performing an HR fitness test with your clients provides insights to help them discover the areas in which they currently excel as well as those where they can improve.
“If you’re going to advise on human resources and consult in this area, an HR fitness test will be a helpful tool as you’re starting out. … It’s an important thing to get a sense of where your clients are and where they stand in their current HR function. … It helps you identify the strengths in their HR function or whether they have one at all.”– Caleb Newquist
In addition to determining their HR function, human resource fitness tests give you insights you need to fill in the current gaps of your clients’ services. When creating an HR fitness test, you do not need to make the questions incredibly specific—they just need to be built around essential services for that company.
“This doesn’t have to be a very complicated test—it’s essentially a quiz around topics that will be relevant to that business. … [The quiz can have] 10 questions, 10 points each. Some examples include employee performance and termination, employee leave, compliance, and wages/hour. You want to test them on their knowledge around those items. Then you can look at their score. If they’ve got 100, maybe they don’t need any help, but if they’re scoring below 70, there’s probably improvements that can be made.”– Caleb Newquist
After evaluating your clients’ HR performance, you can help them make the steps toward improving their human resource systems within their business. To provide the best services possible for your clients, use your findings from the fitness test to tailor the solutions you offer. One great place to begin regardless of the score is with the employee handbook.
Employee handbooks are an HR essential
People often view employee handbooks as something briefly scanned and then ignored for the rest of their employment. Still, handbooks are an essential tool for communicating a company’s policies and goals for employees. When a business creates an effective employee handbook, it keeps everyone on the same page.
“Employee handbooks may seem boring and like something that gets shoved into a drawer never to be looked at again. They’re a very good way for businesses to stay active with engaging their employees—the caveat being that they constantly review and update those handbooks with the policies that are in there.”– Caleb Newquist
As a people advisor, you are in a unique position to assist in creating and updating employee handbooks. The relationships you build with your small business clients give you opportunities to fully develop and understand how your clients want to be seen and interact with their employees. Each client is unique, so what works for one employer will differ from another:
“The type of business will determine how thorough or detailed the handbook will be. You can do a relatively simple version of it … that is just basically a snapshot of what the company is. … As businesses get more complex, the employee handbook is likely to get more complex.”– Caleb Newquist
Depending on the size and complexity of the client’s business, the handbook may only need a few details, like the company name, history, mission, and values. However, your larger clients may need details included about disciplinary processes, eligible benefits, performance reviews, and remote work policies. The best way to determine what needs to be included is to ask questions that help you and the client understand what they truly want from their business.
Offer peace of mind through labor law guidance
As an accountant, tax law is intrinsically tied to your occupation, and you have a deep understanding of how it works. When shifting your vision toward people advisory and HR services, your knowledge of tax law can help you approach labor laws in the right way. These laws protect different ideas, but they function in very similar ways.
“I think labor law is kind of a kindred spirit with tax law in the sense that there are all these different jurisdictions, and they all have their own ideas about what law [is right] for their jurisdiction. In that sense, it feels very similar to tax law in how you approach it.”– Caleb Newquist
With both tax and labor laws, there are different requirements for employers depending on their location and size. Because of these similarities, you can track and manage labor laws for human resource consulting in a very similar way to tax law. For example, if you have employees in multiple states, you can help your clients make sense of the rules by advising them on addressing labor laws in different regions.
Additionally, labor laws are similar to tax laws in the sense that both are in a constant state of flux. As an HR advisor, you have the opportunity to interpret these changes and counsel clients toward making the right decision surrounding these complex statutes:
“Potentially, [labor law] could be a very rich and detailed area that you could help manage for clients in those situations. There’s no shortage of areas to monitor, including … COBRA and child labor, family and medical leave, overtime, etc. These areas are subject to change, and like tax law, the labor laws are constantly being tweaked, … and there [are different] interpretations.”– Caleb Newquist
As an advisor, you can serve your clients by keeping them abreast about the changes in labor laws and assisting them in remaining compliant in that area. By ensuring that they’re informed, you help them perform crucial HR functions to create a better employee experience.
Learn more about human resource functions you can offer clients
As a people advisor, you can provide clients with services beyond the typical accountant offerings to make their companies a great place to work. From HR evaluation to labor law compliance, your firm can offer vital human resource functions that would be challenging for your small business clients to perform independently.
“I think one compelling reason for you to consider HR advisory services is relatively simple. Small businesses hire people just like big businesses, and they have to deal with all the issues that come with having employees. … If they do have someone looking at [human resources] on staff, it’s probably someone who wears a lot of hats within the business. Herein lies an opportunity for firms to support their clients in a really meaningful way and build trust between your client and your firm.”– Caleb Newquist
If you are interested in learning more about how you can better serve your clients through human resource consulting, check out the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to look out for parts one, three, and four of this webinar article series for a more in-depth look at why you should offer HR services in your people advisory strategy, and learn the best HR analysis reports to provide your clients.
Our mission at Gusto is to create a world where accountants focus on their clients’ people as much as their finances. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to train your team to help clients reach their potential. 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.