Practicing workplace gratitude + Servant HR updates!

Practicing workplace gratitude + Servant HR updates!

Few things are more contagious than recognition, encouragement and gratitude. Creating an office culture of thankfulness is not seasonal work, but a year-round initiative sparked most often by leaders. The humility demonstrated by employers, managers and HR professionals in acknowledging and appreciating others can spread quickly through an organization. Simple “thank-yous” have the power to transform a workplace.

As we approach thanksgiving, we thought we would practice this gratitude with you, as well as share a few Servant HR updates! We have so much to be thankful for this year.


1. Our people


In the midst of our office remodel this week, our team still gathered together for our Monday prayer meeting. We shared personal and work-related prayer requests in a circle on the floor of our empty new conference room. We are grateful for our dedicated team members and their flexibility in transition. Each person brings a variety of skills and personality traits and we appreciate their hard work.


Our temporary team meeting spot, since no shortage of furniture can keep our team from Monday mornings together.

Our small but mighty team manages payroll, benefits administration and all things HR for clients across the Midwest.










2. Our clients


Lately we have been given opportunities to see our clients in action and we are so thankful for the organizations we serve. Edge Mentoring’s EDGE|X conference reinforced our values about servant leadership and provided us with unique networking opportunities. Hosting a booth at Truth at Work’s Transformation conference also introduced us to new people and ideas on leadership and humility. We are proud of the work our clients do and feel blessed to partner with so many different missions and organizations.


Our Truth at Work conference booth featured details about Servant HR, information about our upcoming network series and a drawing to win a free drone.
















3. Our space


For our friends and clients a few states away, you may wonder where we actually work! While we serve clients in over twenty-five states, our team of eleven works out of an office complex in Fishers, Indiana. Now, after several months of prayer and planning (and a few demo days!) we are operating out of a new office that better fits our growing team


Demolition of our old space continues as our team works on the other side of the wall.

The new expansion provides more office space, several conference rooms, a break room and a waiting lounge.
















The new space is an expansion of our old one into a vacant neighboring office and God has been so faithful to provide this smooth transition. We are especially thankful for Avera Commercial LLC and their quick, diligent work through the construction process. Adrian Sodrel and his team have been a huge blessing, working many late nights and early mornings to keep our workplace clean and functional.


Adrian and his team hard at work in one our new office spaces.

Avera Commercial workers rip up old carpet with cheerful smiles.










We have been richly blessed and still have much to be thankful for. So, are you infected yet? We hope our gratitude is contagious and inspires you to spend time intentionally thanking your family, your boss, your friends, your managers and coworkers this season.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Servant HR!

Top Ten Tips for Effective Interviewing

Top Ten Tips for Effective Interviewing

Did you know most hiring managers decide whether they are going to hire someone in the first 3 minutes of an interview? And that is not enough time to conduct an effective interview. In fact, ineffective job interviews often lead to bad hires and that is a costly proposition when you factor in training costs, wages, and lost productivity when you have to do it all over again.

In order to improve your odds, you need to be prepared. Conducting a structured interview requires time and forethought. Some studies suggest businesses spend at least one hour preparing for an hour-long interview. It’s well worth the investment.

Here are the Top Ten tips for conducting more effective job interviews – and hiring the right person.

1. Have a current, accurate and enticing job description.
Job descriptions should identify the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that are critical for the candidate to succeed at the job. What critical need does the company have, and how will the candidate fulfill that need? Make sure to also identify the personality traits required for the specific job. Once you’ve performed the job analysis, develop the interview questions based upon the determined criteria.

2. Create a structured interview process.
Structured interviews help ensure all candidates are treated similarly, and research has indicated they are more effective than unstructured job interviews. To create a structured interview:

  • Ask every candidate the same interview questions, and plan follow-up questions to likely responses.
  • Evaluate candidates using an objective and thorough rating scale.
  • Provide training to all interviewers to enable them to conduct interviews using a consistent method and tangible tools to evaluate candidates so they aren’t relying solely on instinct.

3. Ask behavioral questions.
Asking hypothetical or open-ended questions like “how would you deal with an angry coworker?” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” encourages candidates to frame their responses according to what they think the interviewer wants to hear. This is not the best method.

Behavioral interview questions are designed so candidates describe things they actually did in a previous situation and the outcome of their actions. Ask questions like “Tell me about a project you helped initiate. What was your role? What were the results?” and ”Tell me about a time you made an unpopular decision. What were the reactions? How did you respond?”

4. Contact references.
References are a valuable tool for attaining a more complete impression of a candidate. References can verify information, provide feedback on the candidates’ past job performance and accomplishments, and give insight into whether they’ll fit with your company’s culture. They can also verify the accuracy of the examples given in responses to the behavioral questions posed during the interview. When considering a candidate, it’s also prudent to examine their resume to find colleagues who are in your business network and contact them as well.

5. Use the interview to describe the job position.
Interviews are opportunities for managers to give candidates a realistic impression of the job position and the company culture. Some managers are tempted to oversell the company in job interviews, which can ultimately lead to employee dissatisfaction in the long run. Answer questions thoughtfully and candidly and let your natural enthusiasm for the company show, and you’ll help the candidate make an informed decision.

6. Hire for attitude. 
At least one study found that 89% of the time new hires failed, it was for attitudinal reasons, not lack of skill. Hire for characteristics that align with the company’s values as well as technical skills. Be proactive about recruiting people who will be good for your team. High performers are a good source of referrals.

7. Don’t take chances.
Sometimes employees can hire candidates with obvious deficiencies, in hopes they will change. There will always be some compromises made, but if a candidate has a track record of burning bridges, missing deadlines, or quitting multiple jobs within a few weeks – their past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.

8.Silence Can Be Golden.
Try pausing and counting to 5 after an answer to a question you want to know more about. Let them fill in the silence and reveal more.

9. One more interview. 
If you have doubts, conduct one more interview. A bad hire is too costly to the company to forgo the additional interview. And if you find you’re deciding between a pool of average candidates, continue the process until you find someone who fits.

10. Look on social media.
Is the candidate on social media such as Twitter or Facebook? What do they comment on? What do they do with their free time? Who are they are linked to on LinkedIn? Social media channels can give a good look into whether someone will fit your culture.

By taking the time to sufficiently prepare for an interview and asking the right questions, companies can improve their chances of hiring the candidate who is best for the job. If you need help developing an effective interview process which produces consistently great results, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


New Department of Labor Wage Minimums And Its’ Effect on Overtime (and YOU!)

New Department of Labor Wage Minimums And Its’ Effect on Overtime (and YOU!)

UPDATE 10/01/16: The House approved a six-month delay in overtime rule implementation, trying to defer legislation that would have gone into effect on Dec. 1.  The Republican-backed Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act, or HR 6094, would postpone the implementation of new Department of Labor rules that would shift the threshold for determining overtime pay until June 1, 2017.

The House approved the bill with a 246 to 177 vote. The bill has moved to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. President Obama has reportedly threatened to veto the bill. If you have questions, please contact us.
Original Post:

As many of you have heard from us at Servant HR and other sources for months, the Obama Administration has finally come down with new regulations that establish a new wage minimum for your salaried/exempt employees.  Employers must be in compliance by December 1, 2016 so if you haven’t already analyzed your situation, now is the time.  The odds of this being overturned are virtually non-existent regardless of the 2016 election outcome.

Snapshot of the New Regulations

These regulations update the minimum salary level required for an employee to qualify under any of the common exemptions. Currently, that salary level stands at $23,660 per year ($455 per week). The new regulations raise the minimum salary level to $47,476 ($913 per week).

What This Means to Employers and Employees

As an employer, if you have employees who are classified as exempt under the current FLSA regulations “duties test” but who make less than the new wage base, you will need to make some changes. Employers essentially have three choices to be in compliance with the new regulations:

  1. Keep the employee’s exemption status intact by increasing the employee’s pay to at or above the new minimum threshold
  2. Change the employee’s exemption status to salary/nonexempt, and while still paying a salary, begin paying overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours in a given workweek
  3. Change the employee’s exemption status to hourly/nonexempt, and only pay for hours worked and begin paying overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours in a given workweek

How to Prepare for the Upcoming Changes

These changes require a lot of planning on the part of all affected employers. Here are some ways to get prepared for the coming regulations changes:

  • Confirm employees currently treated as exempt truly meet the “duties test” to establish a list of affected employees
    • Which FLSA Exemption applies?
    • Is there a Department of Labor Fact Sheet that can support your decision?
  • Analyze affected employees.
    • Which employees currently are classified as exempt under the duties test, but have salaries below the new threshold?
    • Gather all relevant data points, such as:
      • How many hours per week do these employees currently work?
      • How much overtime would need to be paid if the employee changed status to nonexempt? How much would that cost?
      • How much would it cost to increase salary levels to meet the new thresholds?
      • Will there be a need to hire additional staff (perhaps in lieu of paying overtime)?
      • Are there systems in place now to accurately calculate hours worked (including all overtime) for all affected employees? If no, what would it cost to put such systems in place?
      • If salaries are increased, what impact will this have on the overall organizational salary structure? Will salary bands need updating? Will upper levels in the organizational hierarchy also need pay increases to stay in alignment with their relative level within the organization?
  • Put together a clear process for decision making.
    • Reach agreement on what changes must be made.
    • Establish consensus on timing of changes.
  • Plan for the transition process
    • Determine exactly what changes will be needed within the payroll system to either change these employees to nonexempt (and pay overtime) or change their salary levels. Create a plan to accomplish either task, depending on which is chosen for a given individual.
    • If any employees will be moving to nonexempt status, create systems for time tracking and create training on how to use those systems and to keep them accurate.
    • Consider whether updates will be needed to your overtime policy and start drafting these now.
    • Start making assessments for individuals and groups to determine the best course of action.
      • Consider to also take this opportunity to do a job analysis and update job descriptions accordingly to reflect the true duties of the job. This will allow a more accurate comparison against the guidelines in the future.
    • Create a systemic process for review of employee exemption status to ensure that employees are always classified correctly going forward, especially since the salary basis will undoubtedly be changing periodically in the future—employee salaries will need to comply to keep the exemption in place.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate to minimize the disruption these changes may cause.


How prepared is your organization for these coming changes?

This article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal counsel with specific questions.


4 Reasons Why You Need World Class Job Descriptions

I was recently asked to speak to a group of business owners about “World Class Job Descriptions.” Servant HR clients have a love-hate relationship with job descriptions – some love them, some hate them and some just view job descriptions as a necessary evil. While job descriptions are not mandatory for our clients, it is important to understand why job descriptions are necessary and the role they play in keeping you out of trouble.

1. Simplify recruiting communication

First, job descriptions are an easy way to explain job requirements to applicants. You want to attract and hire competent employees, and to do so, they must understand the key requirements of the job.  A well written job description can make the recruitment process flow much more smoothly.

2. Clarify expectations with employees

Second, job descriptions are a great tool for communicating expectations to employees. The job description spells out what is expected of the employee and provides the direction to achieve successful job performance. You can utilize the job description when it comes time for performance reviews and/or determining compensation for a given position. You can also use them as road maps for career planning and training.

3. Ensure compliance with governmental regulations

Third, job descriptions are key to ensuring your legal compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You may be faced with a situation in which an employee requests an accommodation in order to perform his or her job. Your job description is firm documentation of what constitutes the position and the requirements for it. This will be important in determining what are “essential functions” and potential reasonable accommodations. Your job descriptions also assist with FLSA compliance. By spelling out the FLSA status of a position (exempt v. non-exempt) you set the parameters for work hours, pay type and overtime.

4. Position to defent agains faulty unemployment claims

Finally, having job descriptions on file can be the difference between winning or losing (and paying!) unemployment claims. In today’s workplace, it is imperative to have written job descriptions for each position in your organization. In terms of unemployment claims, it is not uncommon to have an employer speak to the requirements of the job and then the employee claims they never knew of those requirements. The State Department of Workforce development tends to be ‘employee friendly’ and is less likely to deny benefits to someone who proves they were never given a job description. By creating them, you are giving yourself more leverage against faulty claims.

There are plenty of tools that help create the foundation of job descriptions without too much difficulty. It is a great starting point where an employer can then make them specific to their workplace and culture.


If you don’t have world class job descriptions or have concerns that yours won’t pass the test, we’d be happy to chat with you about your options.

How Background Checks Fit in With New EEOC Guidelines

An interview and resume reveal only so much about a job applicant. Background checks often shed a clearer light on someone’s past. While there have been policies related to background checks, there has not been recent activity in the form of a federal guidance until last year.

In April 2012, the EEOC issued a new policy guidance essentially saying you cannot have a standalone policy stating you will never hire someone because they committed a particular offense without considering exceptions.  If an employer were to say they would fire someone specifically because they were convicted of DUI, domestic violence or aggravated assault, for example, the fear is that there is some chance the decision would have a disparate impact on minorities.

There is a common way to deal with these guidelines.  If someone is applying for work at your company, be sure the application includes a consumer authorization that says you can run a background check and ask if they have been convicted of any crime. It’s a simple “Yes” or “No” question. When you run the background check on that applicant, you will find out if they lied about having been convicted. If they lied, that is grounds for not hiring them.

If the potential employee indicated on their application that they were convicted of a crime, you must engage in an “interactive dialogue” With that potential employee prior to deciding whether to hire them.   During this discussion, the HR services provider or employer talks to the applicant about what the background check divulged. You then have a conversation about the circumstances surrounding the crime committed.

A DUI is a common crime, often considered a crime of stupidity. Other common crimes are considered crimes of honesty. Those include things like petty theft, larceny, receiving stolen property or writing illegal checks. One important question to ask yourself in such a situation is whether you want the offender touching your money.

Two Areas to Consider During the Interactive Dialogue

During the interactive dialogue, the employer should consider the type of crime the person committed. Perhaps they did something dumb and are honest it. Do you hire them? Even in a crime of violence such as domestic violence, be sure to let the person tell their story before making a decision about their employment. The person could have been fighting back from an attack. Listen, and then decide.

You shouldn’t hire or fire an ex-offender just because they’re an ex-offender. First, consider when the crime was committed. For example, say in 1998 a job applicant got caught smoking marijuana. Listening to his story, you hear that he doesn’t drink or smoke now. He says it was a tough time in his life and then he found his faith. Listen and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Value of the New EEOC Guidelines

The new EOCC guidelines help set up a process for you to ensure that before you say “No” to a former offender who is qualified for a job, you step back and see if the situation runs too much risk for your company.

The EOCC guidelines have been out for over a year. There are certain industries such as childcare and long-term care, and employees such as those who work in collections on sensitive contracts, where certain felonies or misdemeanors could be serious red flags.

Ideally, the EEOC really should have solicited input from companies to see how this could impact them. I always think it’s important to engage with potential employees to ask questions to get to know the person and their story before you make the decision to terminate or hire. Ask them about previous jobs and what they do in their free time, for example.

At Servant HR, we are normally involved in the background check process. What we see most often with individuals with conviction histories is either people don’t admit they received a conviction or they admit a smaller crime but their background check divulges something much worse.

We generally are a fan of background checks because we believe you should know someone’s story. The cost is minimal, so for anyone with access to finances, you should absolutely run a background check. If someone is working with children or the elderly, run a background check.

You must have it in your employee handbook that you, as the employer, have a right to run a background check in order to run it on current employees. If someone’s criminal conviction runs a risk of jeopardizing the safety of your workplace, an interactive engagement is necessary and job termination might be necessary.

We can help you determine the best ways to handle background checks and other sensitive HR issues. Tell me about your HR challenge so we can get started.

“How Do We Retain Employees?”

Employee turnover is a common challenge for most employers. You want to keep those top sellers, top culture creators, top producers and top team players. We are often asked the best ways to retain employees.

Survey Says …

The sheer amount of research and resources dedicated to employee satisfaction illustrates the importance of the issue, and the findings might surprise you. For one, more money is usually far down on the list of ways to keep your best talent. Job satisfaction is typically the real issue.

When we perform employee engagement trainings, we focus on what employees are doing and for whom they are working. It is critical to evaluate the culture of the company, the goals of the company and how each employee views his or her purpose and role in the company.  Individually, we learn about what employees draw from their managers or senior advisors, as feedback from these people is critical. Satisfaction isn’t just the work you do. A strong HR strategy is one that helps train managers to help increase team aspects.

Studies have found work/life balance is another critical factor in job satisfaction. How this balance translates into expectations varies from person to person and generation to generation. Managing millennials is a hot topic for just this reason. People come into a job wanting to find a satisfying experience at work, but they don’t want it to detract from their lives outside of work, whether their priority is family, friends or going to every Indianapolis Colts game on the schedule.

Employees want to feel like their jobs support their lifestyles. That desire can be translated into vacation days, a pay increase, more attention to personal and emotional energy, or making sure an employee’s stress level doesn’t burn them out. People want balance. They want to be allowed to be the person they want to be. All of these factors affect their sense of satisfaction at work.

Top 5 Things Employees Seek

Forbes reports on CEB’s findings from its quarterly study of 50,000 employees over the second half of 2012, coming up with the top five thing people are looking for when they are seeking a new job. You can use these items as starting points for figuring out how to work on these areas of your company. Ask yourself the associated questions. And the top 5 are:

  • Stability: Do your employees buy into your company’s long-term goals? Do these goals provide potential for employees to grow?
  • Compensation: Do your employees feel well compensated?
  • Respect: Do your employees feel respected by their peers, managers and leadership?
  • Health Benefits: Are you communicating the value of the health benefits you’re offering? Are the benefits competitive in your market?
  • Work-Life Balance: What kinds of quality-of-life issues are a priority for your employees and are your helping support those priorities?

Demographics Matter

It is also critical to know who your employees are. Demographic information is a useful indicator. When we carry out exit interviews for employers, we often hear from employees that compensation is important. What we have also learned is that younger people don’t care as much about money and health care benefits, but when those same young people start building families, money and health care benefits become more important to them. Once the family is established, retirement packages become more of a priority.

You need to know their demographics so that you respond accordingly. Get creative in what your compensation package looks like based on the demographic you’re employing.

Personal growth and development are also really important. Offering classes, training, seminars, coaching and mentoring all show your developing employees that you want them to excel and succeed in your company. They see that you are invested in them as a person.

What About My Industry?

Different industries have different challenges, but the struggle to retain employees is across the board. The differences typically lie in what people want more of, but the common ground is that people want “more” of something. Your actions and thoughts behind a gesture as an employer must fit your audience. (On a small scale, some employees will wholeheartedly appreciate a tray of homemade cookies while others will expect gourmet cupcakes.)

Start Evaluating Satisfaction

I know it sounds too simple, but giving your employees a platform to have a voice is a win for you and them. We have found that SurveyMonkey is a great tool to help businesses really figure out where they should focus and what they should do. Using simple surveys — some only five questions long — we can learn what employees would recommend to make your company a better place to work.

We can then drill down to figure out exactly what that looks like and start working on an employee satisfaction strategy. The key is to not let that survey just sit around. Let your employees be heard and don’t forget to listen and act on what you hear.

Be sure you are consistent and realistic, too. Once you carry out the survey, communicate the findings with your employees and let them know where you’ve going from here. Say to them, “This is what we heard you say and these are the three things we can do over the next two months. This is what we’re going to do over the next year.” Be sure to evaluate how things progress and get more feedback. Have someone in place to support these types of initiatives.

Annual or more frequent reviews are a great time to get qualitative feedback on employee satisfaction. Open the door to the conversation to find out what your top employees are really seeking. Make reviews meaningful times for each employee. Affirm their place in the company, compliment their work and discuss their goals. Do what you can to make employee retention a more manageable challenge.

To find out how Servant HR can help your company retain employees, please contact us.