A Word From Our Founder

Dear Servant HR partners & clients,

I want to update you on some exciting long term changes happening here at Servant HR. My desire for the long-term sustainability of Servant HR, along with encouragement from key advisors, has prompted the development of a succession plan for our future. While a typical PEO succession strategy often involves merging or selling to a competitor, it has always been my desire to find someone with the same entrepreneurial drive, passion, and genuine heart for service that grounds Servant HR’s mission and values.

After much consideration and prayer, it has been decided that Brad Schall, our recent VP of Strategic Initiatives, is the clear choice for our future succession needs.

Brad and I first connected ten years ago at Ronald Blue Trust, where Brad served as my financial advisor. Brad has also worked as a staff accountant at UBS Global Asset Management, a Certified Financial Planner, a CPA, and a teacher at Heritage Christian School.

Although the succession process is intentionally slow and will take approximately 7-8 years to fully complete, Brad’s commitment to stay the course with our clients and staff ensures Servant HR will stay true to whom we have always been, while continuing to grow in the knowledge and skills necessary to meet client needs.

Therefore, effective immediately, Brad will now serve as our new President and I have assumed the role of Founder and Chairman.

Our other leadership will not change. Mike Yoder will continue as our CEO, and Loren Elms as our Director of Operations. These three members of our Executive Leadership Team will provide significant oversight of day-to-day operations, while working alongside me in vision casting for our future.

In preparation for this succession transition, Brad became a minority owner on January 1st of this year and is scheduled to become the sole owner of Servant HR in 2026.

Thank you for taking the time to let me share with you this exciting news, and thank you for allowing us the continued privilege of serving you and your work site staff.


Jeff Leffew

Seven Steps to a Stigma Free Workplace

Seven Steps to a Stigma Free Workplace

Imagine you see a friend or coworker carrying something heavy—perhaps a big box, or a table.

You grab the other end to help carry it, or rush to a door to hold it open for them. You do whatever is necessary to help. You don’t really think twice.

While it’s simple and often instinctive to lend a hand to someone in need, helping carry the burden of mental health disorders still brings many employers pause. Hesitation is attributed to stigma—the mark of shame or disgrace associated with circumstances, qualities and people living with mental illness.

This hesitation is also caused by uncertainty and fear. Suddenly, offering help seems precarious and political, and employers fumble to make what would otherwise be natural accommodations. However, Paul Heck of DuPont, suggests the same simple courtesy we extend to someone carrying a heavy box be applied to people demonstrating distress.

The Extent (and Expense)

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. According to a World Health Report, 450 million people currently suffer from these conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

As if the scope of mental health disorders weren’t enough, the cumulative economic cost of mental disorders is projected to reach $16.3 trillion worldwide. In the U.S. alone, the cost of untreated mental illness to employers is estimated to be as high as $100 billion a year. According to the National Business Group on Health, more days of work are lost or disrupted by mental illness than by many chronic conditions, including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

With depression now the world’s second leading cause of disability, workplaces can no longer keep mental health disorders quiet—and businesses can no longer afford to.

An Employer’s Role

Creating awareness and providing accommodations is necessary, but perhaps even more important is the employer’s role in fighting the stigma around mental health.

To support employees with mental illness, the National Mental Health Association and the National Council for Behavioral Health recommend seven action steps:

1. ) Educate employees about the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders.

Routine talk about mental illness warning signs, steps for assessing situations and where to find help is necessary for educating employees in the workplace. Empowering employees with resources and language is a good first step in eliminating fear and tension around the subject of mental health.

2.) Encourage employees to talk about stress, workload, family commitments and other issues.

This kind of encouragement often comes in the form of thoughtful questions. Instead of vaguely asking about health or saying, “You seem depressed,” mention that the employee is not being their usual self. Ask, “Do you want to talk about it?” and remind them it’s okay to ask for help.

3.) Communicate that mental illnesses are real, common and treatable.

This goes hand-in-hand with education. Take the stats from this blog and share them with your employees! Let people know that they’re not alone by having frequent conversations, equipping employees with resources and initiating check-in’s.

4.) Discourage stigmatizing language, including hurtful labels such as “crazy,” “loony” or “nuts.”

Again, attention to language is critical. Less than one third of employees coping with mental illness receive treatment, due to fear that they will be called out or treated differently at work. While it may be easy to brush off such small words, careless labels like these directly contribute to stigma.

5.) Invest in mental health benefits.

Mental health disorders are often rooted in a range of issues that make individuals feel helpless and overwhelmed. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s), health insurance, leadership training, flex schedules, financial literacy training and even childcare all contribute to an individual’s total health. These benefits care for employees as whole people and ultimately improve workplace effectiveness.

6.) Help employees transition back to work after they take leave.

A common misconception about mental illness is that individuals can’t recover. However, 65 to 85 percent of people will improve with appropriate diagnosis, treatment and monitoring, according to the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health. Return to work plans might include counseling and accommodations aimed at bringing employees back to work faster. In this way, work provides a self-esteem boost and plays an important role in an individual’s recovery.

7.) Consider Obtaining Access to an Employee Assistance Program.

Employee Assistant Programs are work-based intervention programs designed to identify and assist employees in resolving common marital, financial, substance abuse and mental health issues. EAP’s can be offered to employees for free and are usually administered by a third-party, to ensure confidence in talking about private issues that many people fear will jeopardize their employment.

Communicating Care

To maintain a healthy work culture and ensure efficiency, mental health can no longer be a topic to whisper about behind closed doors. With the average American spending 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, it’s impossible to assume the effects of mental health disorders are absent in the workplace.

Employers have a responsibility to fight proactively against mental health stigma, ensuring their employees are spending their 90,000 hours well, in a good and safe place.

For more information on how Servant HR can act as your coach for workplace issues like this one, contact us today.

What the New Exempt Salary Threshold Could Mean for Your Business

What the New Exempt Salary Threshold Could Mean for Your Business

In December 2016, compliance with the Obama administration and the Department of Labor’s proposed wage minimum required extreme reclassification. (Read our 2016 blog on this proposal here.) The proposal would have raised minimum exemption wage to a jarring $47,476 from the previous $23,660. Push back from businesses combined with a late term lawsuit kept the proposal pending until Trump took office.

This Just In

As of last week, the Department of Labor has proposed an increase straight down the middle of the historic minimum and attempted Obama-era hike. The current proposed salary-level threshold for white-collar exemptions now sits at $35,308. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the proposal, if finalized, could result in the transition of more than one million currently exempt workers to non exempt, as well as many pay increases for employees below the new threshold.

Nonexempt employees (those who do not meet the salary base and do not match FLSA work requirements) must receive a “time and one half” pay rate for any hours worked over forty in a workweek. The FLSA “duties test” defines specific regulations for executive, administrative and professional work that make an employee exempt, in addition to the salary threshold.

Tricky Business

While compliance is mandatory if the proposal is finalized, the specific way of reaching compliance is left to employer decisions.

If exempt employees currently make salaries significantly lower than the threshold, reclassifying employees to non-exempt and overtime eligible might make sense.

But, employers can also avoid salary and overtime pay altogether. Hours for newly non-exempt employees may be reduced, part-time or contract workers may be hired to fill gaps, tasks may be re-assigned to other exempt employees, and perks may be dismissed since the exempt/non-exempt distinction is often used to provide benefits.

Employers must then weigh the cost of morale.

Overall, it makes more sense to reclassify to nonexempt if an employee does not work much beyond forty hours. But for employees who often work over 40, it may be less difficult and less expensive to increase salary to the new threshold, rather than paying consistent overtime.

What Now?

There is still a long way to go before reclassification. Proposals are always small first steps in a lengthy process before finalization.

However, employers do not have to wait for the final rule to review FLSA duty requirements. Jeffrey Ruzal, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green, recommends employers begin auditing their exempt workforces to determine how many might qualify under the criteria of executive, administrative and professional exemptions. Before raging re-classification, it is possible that employees currently or potentially exempt due to salary, may not pass the primary duties tests.

In general, this pending proposal offers valuable time for fixing current errors and planning for the future. We at Servant HR would love to help plan for yours. If you’re our client, we’re already on it. But if you have questions about the specifics of the proposal, or are wondering how a PEO can help manage these crucial details, please don’t hesitate. Contact us today!

Employee vs. Independent Contractor: The latest NLRB approach

Employee vs. Independent Contractor: The latest NLRB approach

A new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision has drawn a blurrier line between employers and independent contractors. Returning to pre-Obama-era policies, the NLRB is now more likely to acknowledge independent contractor relationships.

A wide array of federal, state and local laws govern the relationship between employers and their employees. But often these laws do not apply to those classified as independent contractors.

The distinction between the two is critical, but hazy, as each law has a slightly different way of discerning independent contractors from employees. Courts and agencies add complication as well through differing interpretations of those laws, along with frequently changing standards according to appointed political party.

Back and Forth

Last year the California Supreme Court broadened the definition of “employee” for wage order claims. Obama-era guidance restricted an employer’s ability to classify workers as independent contractors. Now under President Trump, federal agencies are swinging back the other way.

According to Ryan Funk of Faegre Baker Daniels, the new NLRB decision returns to how it viewed independent contractors before Obama-era restrictions. Funk writes, “The main difference between the new test and the Obama-era one is how the agency looks at whether workers have ‘entrepreneurial opportunity.’”

Action vs. Opportunity

The Obama-era decision gave weight only to actual entrepreneurial activity (and even then, only when looking at just one part of a multi-factor test.) This narrow view makes the chance of meeting criteria significantly slim.

The new NLRB decision re-establishes the value of entrepreneurial activity. The principle of “opportunity for entrepreneurial activity” is used to evaluate the overall effect of each of the ten factors in a common-law analysis of an independent contractor relationship.

The decision is employer friendly, as it frees up employers to classify independent contractors and drop the host of governing laws.

Boiling It Down

While employers are freed up through the new decision, the line is still blurry. Those looking for a clear distinction between employee and independent contractor are in for a letdown. According to Funk, “Any legal test with ten factors is bound to boil down to a case-by-case approach.”

Even tests and their factors can vary case-by-case. Over the last thirty years the IRS has used an old revenue ruling twenty-point test, the tax court has used a seven-point test, and the IRS has espoused a three-pronged “control test.” Confusion is certainly understandable.

Therefore, independent contractor relationships should be re-analyzed in light of the new NLRB approach. Based on potential IRS involvement, it’s also important to note that the NLRB is just one voice in a crowd of agencies, so employers should stay up to date as independent contractor tests continue to evolve.

What is a PEO? Servant HR explains.

What is a PEO? Servant HR explains.

You are a business owner. You are passionate about what your business does. But, legal compliance of I-9 documents? Benefit renewals? Unemployment compensation defense? Maybe not so much.

And yet, attention to the details of HR is critical. Overlooked tax changes, missed reporting requirements or a tricky employee termination can cause serious legal and financial repercussions.

Fortunately, Servant HR is a full service HR department that enjoys serving clients through eliminating their administrative hassle. Our team of experts partners with you to manage and optimize all your human resource responsibilities, so you have the freedom to focus on what matters most — growing your business.

What is a PEO?

When a company signs on with Servant HR, a unique relationship is formed as Servant HR becomes the company’s PEO.

The acronym PEO stands for Professional Employer Organization. While the acronym is attached to a variety of business models, NAPEO (The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations) defines a PEO as a “provider of comprehensive HR solutions for small and midsize businesses.

A professional employer organization establishes a three-way relationship between a company, its employees and the PEO. Rather than the traditional employer/employee relationship, the company and the PEO become “co-employers.”

What is Co-Employment?

Servant HR is an administrative employer, managing payroll, workers compensation, benefits and unemployment compensation matters. Management and day-to-day oversight is still the responsibility of the worksite employer.

When a company engages Servant HR as its PEO, employees sign a Co-Employee Acknowledgement Agreement. This agreement confirms employee understanding that he/she is now an employee of both Servant HR and their worksite employer.

What exactly does Servant HR do?

We provide comprehensive HR management tasks across five main disciplines:

  • HR Coaching & Counseling
  • Payroll
  • Benefits Administration
  • Risk Management
  • Retirement Program Setup & Admin

As a PEO, we strategically partner with clients to manage and optimize all human resource responsibilities — for both the benefit and protection of the client.

Any other reasons to consider a PEO?

So glad you asked!

According to NAPEO, small businesses that work with a PEO:

  • Grow 7 to 9 percent faster
  • Have employee turnover that is 10 to 14 percent lower
  • Are 50% less likely to go out of business

Any other reasons to consider Servant HR specifically?

  • Relief from the burden of employment administration
  • Expanded human capital management through a team of professionals
  • Improved employment practices, compliance and risk management
  • Administration of comprehensive employee benefit packages
  • Improved productivity and profitability

Unlike single-task outsource companies, Servant HR values the total relationship. By maintaining close management of all HR functions, our team gains valuable insights, understands procedures and offers holistic service. Our mission to take care of you and your employees makes relationship our priority.

Have more questions? Considering a PEO for your business? Contact us today! We’re excited to show you the benefits of a relationship with Servant HR.