From possible changes in the Affordable Care Act to the recent injunction on the Department of Labor’s final overtime rule, regulations impacting companies’ HR policies and practices are evolving at a rapid pace. As a result, it’s an area that’s increasingly difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to manage. Keeping up with regulations requires expert guidance, leading many clients to turn to their most trusted advisor—their CPA.
In a recent survey conducted by Paychex, some 44 percent of small business owners agreed it was increasingly difficult to manage HR—twice as many as those who said it was not. Their top concern: managing regulatory compliance (73 percent). Benefits management (65 percent) and payroll and tax administration (65 percent) tied for the next biggest worry. Rounding out the list were performance management (53 percent) and recruitment and retention (44 percent).
So, who should small business owners turn to for help? Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said they would find it valuable if their existing trusted advisor—accountant, attorney or other consultant—offered additional guidance on HR and regulatory compliance.
More than ever, small businesses in the U.S. are looking for guidance, given that the outcome of the 2016 presidential election could mean dramatic changes for them. The top regulatory issues impacting small business voters this year were tax reform, employment law, health care reform, retirement and immigration, as noted in this Key Election Issues Affecting Employers infographic.
Recognizing that clients need help in better understanding regulatory, compliance and other issues affecting their day-to-day operations, CPA firms are eager to broaden their advisory role with clients, according to research from CPA.com, a subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs. In fact, developing new offerings that expand the value CPAs provide to existing clients beyond their core services was the top priority for firms in last year’s CPA.com Innovation in Public Accounting Survey. And more than 95 percent of respondents said they’re “putting effort into developing new ways to differentiate their practice to build client preference.”
These trends present an opportunity for accountants to deliver greater value to clients than ever before. With that in mind, here are three tips for accountants to help meet the HR needs of their clients.
1. Gain a deeper understanding. Ask your clients which HR issues they find most challenging so you can become well-versed in them. Ensure you have a reliable source for providing the latest regulatory news and updates, as well as access to ongoing training and educational resources.
2. Look to technology. Innovative HR technology can help your clients streamline all aspects of their human capital management programs across the employee life cycle, from recruiting and onboarding to retirement. HR technology platforms save time, reduce errors, and provide easy, convenient access to information for both employers and employees.
3. Turn to a trusted partner. To provide you with a greater depth of knowledge and understanding about HR issues, align your firm with a full-service HR provider to help manage client needs.
As the HR and regulatory environments continue to become increasingly demanding and complex, you can expect that more clients will turn to you for guidance and counsel. Taking the steps now to make sure you’re ready to help will make you an even more invaluable partner to your clients.
Andy Childs is the vice president of marketing at Paychex