“When we had issues with employees or questions about payroll, Servant was there to help and guide us.”
April 5th, 2013 by Website Editor
When Jeff Leffew launched Servant HR in 2003, he knew that as a business leader, he wanted to be held accountable to live out his faith in his professional life as well as his personal one. This part of his mission led him to Truth@Work in 2003. Jeff has been an active member ever since, one of hundreds around the country, and Truth@Work became a client of Servant HR in 2005.
Truth@Work is a nonprofit organization based in Indianapolis cofounded by Ray Hilbert, whose career path tested his ability to run a business on biblical principles versus worldly values. A man of strong conviction and bold vision, Ray and the Truth@Work team serve business leaders by hosting Christian Roundtables to integrate Christian faith into businesses’ daily operations. Products, programs and services help entrepreneurs, CEOs and executives develop and share technologies, achieve personal-spiritual-business “life integration” and balance, and experience a safe place to share issues and challenges.
Ray cofounded Truth@Work with fellow businessman Matt Peelen in 1998. At the time, they weren’t sure exactly how the new organization would function on a daily basis or precisely what this new model would look like. What they did know is they were searching for the next chapter in their lives and that the Lord would direct their steps.
In April 2000, Truth@Work had a roster of nine members. Slowly and organically, the Indianapolis organization grew. When a few people in other cities reached out with an interest in expanding Truth@Work to their cities, Ray said he wasn’t surprised.
“Since our inception, we felt it would happen. We didn’t know how or when. We just wanted to build the best things we could right now so we would be ready if and when it presented itself,” he says.
They ran beta tests in other cities for three years, 2007-2010, to see if the Truth@Work model was repeatable. The answer was yes. In 2010, Ray and his team decided to really scale and grow to other chapters. Since 2010, Truth@Work has moved into to about 30 cities.
“A very realistic plan is that by the end of 2014, we will be up to 100 cities. Five years from there, we will be in 200 markets,” Ray says. He calls it the “proverbial flywheel.” His team is totally focused on the job at hand. All systems are on go. They aren’t distracted by tasks that wouldn’t help them grow or risks they shouldn’t carry, so they are all going in the direction they want to go.
“The big takeaway of our value and relationship with Servant HR is it allows us to focus on what we do, which is grow and serve and build our Roundtable program,” Ray says. “We have peace of mind knowing our HR and payroll and all those pain-in-the-neck issues are off our plate so we can grow and build and sustain our organization.”
Truth@Work has seven full-time employees. To carry out the organization’s functions across the country, Ray and his team certify chapter presidents who are independent of the company payroll. Servant HR helped counsel Ray regarding why that would be a good structure.
From the start, Ray and Matt also made two critical decisions that have influenced the current growth. First, they wanted to be structured as a nonprofit.
“Because business owners and high-level executives are our audience, the nonprofit route has allowed us to stay very focused on what we do and to have very trusting relationships. There is no alternative agenda to make money,” Ray says.
Second, related to scalability, the Anderson University marketing graduate says Truth@Work didn’t make itself visible or findable on the web for its first several years. They didn’t want phone calls and emails without the infrastructure in place to be able to deliver on what they wanted to provide.
“We had the vision, but we intentionally didn’t position ourselves for fast, rapid growth that we couldn’t handle. So in beginning, we sent out a few letters sharing the concept and invited people to come to informational meetings regarding the Roundtable,” Ray says. Truth@Work is now highly visible on the web.
A major advantage of partnering with a PEO is to reduce risk. Asked how Servant HR helps him avoid unnecessary HR risks, Ray answers, “This the most intriguing question. My view and perspective on this is that they are doing their job right, so I don’t even know about the risks I’m avoiding.”
Most recently, Ray says Servant HR is helping Truth@Work navigate the real-world implications and impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, helping them understand how different choices might impact or affect the organization and its employees.
Servant HR has also helped on a number of occasions when Truth@Work has had to terminate employees by putting together solid exit plans to help them maintain friendships and a healthy culture. Handling those situations with honor, dignity and respect was important.
“Servant HR has been a great fit for us because they are also very family and values oriented. Christian faith is their No. 1 priority for them like it is for us. This is all a natural extension,” Ray says.
For more information about Truth@Work, visit the website. Contact Servant HR to find out how we can help your organization stay focused.
March 7th, 2013 by Website Editor
The Thompson Group’s mission is about finding pain, healing pain and showing love. About three years ago, the insurance agency began to feel its own pain. The Parker City, Ind., business had seven employees with owner Anson Thompson at the helm. He had purchased the agency from his father in 1996. While Anson was focused on growing sales and serving clients, he started to realize a significant gap.
“I’m not a good manager of people by any means. I’m a salesperson. A lot of my interactions with people weren’t going well. I hired Servant HR to act as a kind of buffer,” he says. Anson knew what he was good at and what he needed to focus on to be an effective leader, and HR didn’t apply.
Since that time, Anson has helped his agency grow in several ways. Its culture has matured, its staff has grown and it has added a second location. But The Thompson Group’s path to where it is now was not a simple one. After merging with a larger, more traditional agency, he experienced fundamental differences of culture and business direction that weren’t going to be worked out with time and effort.
“Our office has always been a little creative. We look at the insurance business in a different light than most people in our industry. We’re kind of quirky,” he says.
While the relationship between The Thompson Group and the larger agency floundered, one of the owners of the larger agency found she had a lot of common ground with Anson. As a result, Jenny Dils Durr and Anson joined forces and merged in 2012.
Servant HR handled the hiring of Jenny’s employees in Indianapolis under The Thompson Group’s HR umbrella. Servant HR had developed administrative processes, an employee handbook and other strategies that made it easy for Jenny and Anson to follow necessary regulations and be sure their employees understood the changes.
Anson says that having Servant HR handle the human resources for The Thompson Group’s 16 employees allows him to get out and sell. “If we have an issue at all, we call Servant HR . It’s the ‘good to great’ theory. Good is the enemy of great,” he says.
“We aren’t good at managing people, and Servant HR has become our HR position, which positions us to go sell and make money. By partnering with Servant HR, we are far more profitable than if we didn’t work with Servant HR. Servant HR makes us money.”
Contact us to see how we can help you focus on being the business leader you want to be.
February 14th, 2013 by Mike Yoder
Most U.S. states have an at-will employment policy. This means that you as a business owner or employer may fire someone for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all — as long as your reason isn’t illegal. While this does provide more freedom for employers, it is not a free pass to fire someone without regard for how it is handled.
What’s the issue here?
If you as an employer discipline or terminate an employee and do you it badly, you create risk for yourself. A former employee could potentially sue you for discrimination, wrongful termination or a similar claim.
In at-will states, you can terminate someone’s employment for almost any reason as long as it isn’t illegal. If you can’t prove just cause, the employee can file for and get unemployment compensation. More concerning, the person can claim you released them from their job because of their protected class status. Those characteristics could include being over the age of 40, being a certain race or sex, or having a disability.
Generally, as HR professionals, we want to be able to prove that an employee has earned the right to be terminated. There should be some level of just cause when they broke company rules, were insubordinate, etc. We use that information to defend an unemployment compensation claim or discrimination claim.
What are my risks?
While no recent legislative changes have modified how unemployment compensation is handled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the current administration has become more proactive in addressing such issues. Employers should be even more mindful of these kinds of HR issues than they perhaps were in the past.
Most frequently, we see the biggest problems arise when an employer discharges someone who is in a protected class (e.g. they are disabled or practice a certain religion) and chooses to fire them at will. In such cases, the employee can come back and successfully say there was not just cause so they have a right to unemployment compensation. They can use that judgment to file a claim with the EEOC. From there, the EEOC hears those claims and if the employee is successful, the employer could be obligated to settle with the individual (in the form of money and/or the offer of getting their job back), or the EEOC gives the employee a “right to sue” notice so the person can potentially find an attorney and take the issue to federal court.
How can I limit my risks?
There are ways to protect yourself from risk or potential losses before an actual termination takes place or becomes necessary. A process of progressive discipline is a prudent, widely used method to follow. With progressive discipline, you follow steps to help document and show evidence of the employee’s bad behavior or failure to follow policy.
For example, if someone does something wrong, you first talk to them about the issue, giving them a verbal warning. If the problem persists, you may follow with a written warning. If this warning is not heeded, termination might be justified and necessary. Normally, the state wants you to walk through a progressive process so employees are warned and understand that if they continue down this road, they could lose their job.
If you can show just cause for terminating an employee, you as an employer are improving your chances that a terminated employee is unable to collect unemployment compensation and sue you.
What’s the bottom line?
Firing an employee comes with risk, and while a state employment at-will doctrine may lead an employer to believe they can fire someone for no reason, there are potential consequences if progressive discipline is ignored. Considering a progressive discipline process based on a just-cause standard is a recommended part of a company’s HR policies. When a policy is developed, it must be part of the company handbook, where you document just-cause offenses. HR professionals, such as those at a PEO, can walk you through the ins and outs of this policy development.
If you have any questions about this issue, contact me, Mike Yoder, at 317-585-1688.
January 30th, 2013 by Jeff Leffew
Even if leaders are born and not made, none is born ready to be their most successful. Jeff Leffew, founder and president of Servant HR, has worked with lots of business leaders through the years. Here are three characteristics he has noticed the most successful ones possess as they are faced with HR challenges and tasks.
January 16th, 2013 by Website Editor
The IRS controls what makes a person an employee or an independent contractor. If you incorrectly classify someone, back taxes, penalties and fees can come into play. Mike Yoder, CEO of Servant HR, walks us through three areas of control that play a role in determining whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor.
- Type of relationship
Find out more about these categories and how they may relate to you in the video.
January 4th, 2013 by Jayne Blazier
Is unemployment tax all doom, gloom and writing checks to the government? Staff Accountant Jayne Blazier offers up three positive aspects of unemployment tax and ways you may be able to decrease the amount you pay.
December 19th, 2012 by Scott Ingram
I am often asked what size company needs a PEO. Is it the right fit for startups as well as big corporations? When does it not make sense? Due to broad issues including health care reform and the nature of the modern workforce, my answer to that question is changing. Here is a by-the-numbers approach to sizing up a PEO for your business. But first, a little about healthcare reform.
What Healthcare Reform Means to the Numbers
In three words, the Affordable Care Act makes answering the question of what size company needs a PEO much more difficult. With healthcare legislation, the importance of a PEO grows as there is an additional layer of compliance related to health benefits. Compared to staff size, the more important question business owners need to ask themselves is: “Who is going to be my expert on healthcare reform?” With many changes on the horizon, businesses need to consider if it makes sense to use a PEO to handle all of those things an internal person doesn’t need to be learning and focusing on.
A PEO model makes a lot of sense for many startup companies with as few as 3-5 people on staff. These businesses are focused on providing a service or product that will help them get off the ground and grow. They aren’t resting on laurels or riding any easygoing waves of revenue growth. A PEO is a good fit because it allows entrepreneurs and small business owners to keep their eyes on the ball doing what they love instead of worrying about benefits, federal regulations and payroll.
Owners of emerging companies and startups typically can see the value of outsourcing their HR. PEOs are good at working with rapidly growing businesses that need to focus on raising money and reinvesting so they can grow. PEOs understand that. As the business grows, a PEO’s service to that business tends to grow as well.
This is a PEO’s sweet spot. When a business has 20-75 employees, a full-service PEO can do everything it is made to do for a client. The PEO can be fully engaged in every aspect of the client’s HR.
This is the kind of business that needs every part of a PEO: HR management, benefits, payroll, risk management and retirement services. They are big enough to feel the growing pains of having employees, yet they aren’t so big that a full-service PEO that carries many of the risks associated with having a staff isn’t the best fit. This category covers most of Servant HR’s current clients.
When a company has 75-200 employees, discussions usually start within its finance department to determine if it makes sense to go out and hire a full-time HR expert. This analysis is legitimate — but requires a complete analysis of the costs and benefits of such a decision.
A company must avoid the misconception that anyone with HR experience can do the job well. If you are going to keep your HR services in house, be sure your hire is a highly qualified expert. When you have an HR generalist or a less experienced person, you are losing out on a PEO’s experience solving HR challenges on a daily basis in many different industries. In many cases, this kind of hire isn’t economically feasible, which brings companies back to the PEO model.
As a company continues to grow, it may be able to pay a professional HR person to handle at least 20 hours of task-oriented HR work as well as more strategic recruitment and training. That makes sense. The question to answer is what happens as the company continues on the upswing and those necessary tasks become too much for one person — at least this highly qualified person you hired to handle all of your HR needs. Does the business owner want this person to focus on payroll and worker’s comp, which have to be done, or more strategic areas such as development and coaching? What is the priority? When this tipping point begins to happen, these are the sorts of things business owners need to consider and a PEO still remains of great value.
Once a company gets past 200 employees, it almost always has internal HR people. Different tax advantages for companies of this size also come in to play when considering whether a PEO is the right choice. Often, it makes sense to move from a PEO model into an ASO (Administrative Services Organization) model. What that means is the HR service provider meets the administrative and HR needs of the client while the client retains all employment-related risks and liabilities.
If you are asking yourself whether a PEO is a good fit for you, contact me, Scott Ingram, at 317-585-1688 to find out more.
November 2nd, 2012 by Leah Elms
As a tight election season comes to a close, one thing we all want from our candidates is a little more insight into what makes them tick — and perhaps what might tick them off. We are in essence hiring this person to carry out a four-year contract. In this spirit, we are taking a stab at the DiSC profiles of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.* Our predictions are…
Barack Obama: High D and I
Mitt Romney: High D and C
Borrowed directly from the DiSC Workplace and Classic 2.0 Profile Reports, if our guesses are right on the candidates, these assessments represent the following classical profile patterns:
Barack Obama: Inspirational Pattern
- Emotions: accepts aggression; downplays need for affection
- Goal: control of their environment or audience
- Judges others by: projection of personal strength, character, and social power
- Influences others by: charm, direction, intimidation; use of rewards
- Value to the organization: acts as a “people mover”; initiates, demands, compliments, disciplines
- Overuses: attitude that “the ends justify the means”
- Under Pressure: becomes manipulative, quarrelsome, or belligerent
- Would increase effectiveness with more: genuine sensitivity; willingness to help others succeed in their own personal development
Mitt Romney: Creative Pattern
- Emotions: accepts aggression; restrains expression
- Goal: dominance; unique accomplishments
- Judges other by: personal standards; progressive ideas for accomplishing tasks
- Influences others by: ability to pace development of systems and innovative approaches
- Value to the organization: initiates or designs changes
- Overuses: bluntness; critical or condescending attitude
- Under Pressure: becomes bored with routine work; sulks when restrained; acts independently
- Fears: lack of influence; failure to achieve their standards
- Would increase effectiveness with more: warmth; tactful communication; effective team cooperation; recognition of existing sanctions
While it is fun to guess what our leaders might be, at Servant HR, we use DiSC for more practical reasons. DiSC is a leading personal assessment tool and one we turn to on a regular basis to help clients assess potential job candidates, new hires and current employees. Before 2011, there was very little nuance from quadrant to quadrant in the D, I, S and C pieces of the pie that make up the heart of DiSC, but there have been major improvements. And DiSC can be very reasonably priced.
The DiSC tool is a highly enhanced personality test set up for the workplace. The DiSC assessment is just one of many tools available to evaluate people. DiSC results should be viewed as pieces of a puzzle. They should not be used as comprehensive appraisals. The first step for an employer when they want to perform an assessment is to define exactly what information they want to glean. If they want to hire someone with a specific skill set or proclivity, DiSC might not be the right assessment.
In that case, a skill-type assessment would probably be more appropriate. You can find tests for sales ability, learning ability, or even determining how likely someone will be tardy or steal from your company! If you are hiring for a particular position, there is an assessment out there for you. You just need to know where to look.
The reasons to use DiSC as part of your process, however, are many. If you can understand where your team members fall on the DiSC quadrant, you can communicate with them and work with them more effectively. For example, a D and an S work completely differently. If you need them to work together well, you must understand their communication needs and what motivates them. DiSC can help you get those two divergent personality types working together so they can bring value to your team.
The cost to hire and train a new person is expensive. Employers want to make sure they made the right decision before they commit to a particular person. They want to know in which direction this person will tend to veer and where they want to go. This helps the employer evaluate if and how the person will grow with the company or organization. A DiSC analysis can also be a beneficial tool for narrowing a pool of prospective employees.
If you are interested in focusing on a current employee to support them or move them to another position in your company, a personality type assessment such as DiSC might be useful to see how they would perform in a management position or to see how you can help push them where they would be better fulfilled.
3 DiSC Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t let an untrained person evaluate results. You need to work with someone who has been trained on and has experience with the many nuances of DiSC analyses.
- Do accept each test-taker’s individuality. We are not waffling on the value of DiSC, but you must understand that not everyone tests well. This is important in analyzing results.
- Do take advantage of DiSC reporting options related to facilitators, culture, leaders and more. In addition to the initial report, a facilitator report can go to a person’s direct manager to help that person better put together teams that work well. The different profiles DiSC offers can shed light on a person’s leadership style, critical thinking tendencies and style of interacting with others. These types of attributes might be useful for assessing management potential, while a sales profile would illustrate how someone might fit in that job situation.
If you would like to learn more about DiSC or other assessment tools and how they can bring value to your staff, please contact Servant HR at 317-585-1688.
(*As you probably guessed, we did not speak to anyone associated with the Obama or Romney camps for this blog post. Though we based our predictions on decades of DiSC assessment usage as HR professionals, this blog post is strictly hypothetical.)
October 22nd, 2012 by Website Editor
When you’re talking about the business of human resources, it’s all about the people. But when you’re talking about the business of accounting and advising, people may not be the first things that come to mind. Jeff Donovan, a partner at Donovan Certified Public Accountants and Advisors, a Servant HR client, says that is what sets apart his firm from many others.
“The key to our success is that we are focused on developing close relationships with people,” he says, and not just people who own big businesses or small businesses. Donovan, based in Avon, Indiana, has clients that include startups and large corporations, high-net-worth individuals and students.
One such individual has been a client of Jeff’s father, Bob Donovan, for more than 40 years. It was Bob who founded the firm, purchasing a small “tax shop” in Danville, Indiana, in 1972. “A lot of other shops don’t have that kind of loyalty,” Jeff says. Through the years, Bob developed his business into a premier, full-service firm.
Jeff joined his father in business in 1994 after working at KPMG Peat Marwick LLP. At KPMG, Jeff cut his teeth working in Guam and Saipan, gaining an international outlook and invaluable experience in the fields of tourism and international accounting.
Donovan’s payroll and footprint grew quickly when it merged with another firm in Plainfield, resulting in two offices. When the Danville office outgrew its parking lot four years ago, Jeff says, the firm consolidated its staff and moved to Avon.
As a smaller firm, Jeff says they had kept a lot of administrative responsibilities in house. The internal payroll, for example, was being handled by his wife. But she was becoming overburdened with all of the HR aspects such as health insurance and payment deadlines. In the meantime, things such as management training were not getting the attention they deserved, and the quality of the employee handbook left much to be desired
“We knew about Jeff [Leffew] and Servant HR,” Jeff says of Servant HR’s founder and president. Jeff Donovan had heard about Servant HR’s services but they didn’t seem necessary at the time, but with the growth of Donovan came more HR requirements and wants that they couldn’t easily handle on their own. Donovan became a Servant HR client in 2009.
By taking responsibility for many of Donovan’s HR needs, Servant HR helps Jeff and the 23-person Donovan staff focus on their clients and their needs. For example, Servant HR helps Donovan keep its payroll confidential, administers health insurance and manages benefits such as a 401k. Servant HR also upgraded Donovan’s antiquated handbook from a 10-page document of dos and don’ts to a comprehensive handbook that guides Donovan’s modern-day workforce.
Servant HR has also trained Donovan’s management team on performance appraisals during lunch-and-learn sessions and consulted them on the value of outsourcing HR so they can share that knowledge with their clients when appropriate. “It’s nice to have that expertise in your hip picket,” Jeff says.
Jeff says Servant HR is a good fit for Donovan’s culture. Being guided by Christian-based values and a servant attitude are in line with the way Donovan treats people and does business.
October 18th, 2012 by Website Editor
We are often asked, “Can I tell an employee what to wear, or tattoo, or pierce?” The answer is generally, “Yes.”
Times have changed. Thirty years ago, 1 percent of Americans had tattoos. Today, 16 percent of people aged 18-24 have both tattoos and piercings.
Employers have a legitimate interest in professionalism in the workplace, and they can take steps to ensure their image reflects their standards of professionalism. Watch Mike Yoder, Chief Executive of Servant HR, discuss the issue in this video.