Crosswinds Conversations | Curtis Smith Interviews Mike Yoder, the CEO of Servant HR

This video segment is from Restoring Hope, a TV series hosted on WHMB40 and serving the Indianapolis area. Crosswinds Counseling offers counseling services throughout Indiana.

Curtis: Joining us tonight now on Restoring Hope is Mike Yoder, the CEO of Servant HR. Mike thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Mike: Thanks for having me.

Curtis: For those that don’t know Servant HR, tell us a little bit about your organization.

Mike: Absolutely. Servant HR is a business in Fishers Indiana, we do outsourced Human Resources for small and medium-sized businesses. So if a company, instead of having an HR Director, decides they want to have us do that, we’ve got 11 employees that do nothing but Human Resources and we do it for about 85 clients, most out of central Indiana.

Curtis: Wow. Businesses of all different sizes?

Mike: All sizes ranging from literally 2 employees to 300.

Curtis: That’s a lot different. To do HR for 2 and 300.

Mike: Absolutely. A lot of different laws apply in many different ways.

Curtis: Does that go across many state lines? Where are all of your organizations?

Mike: Most of our clients are based out of central Indiana, but then they might have a salesperson in Utah or in Kentucky. So we actually run payroll in about 30 states even though most of our home office companies are in central Indiana.

Curtis: Mike, this season of life that we’re in, kind of still in the pandemic, the workforce seems to have virtually disappeared. We are in this very strange state in our history. From an HR perspective, I would assume that a lot of the organizations that you work with are, I don’t know if they’re panicked, it’s just unsettling. It’s something we’ve never seen before. What are you seeing as you look across that landscape?

Mike: Unsettling is a good word. So often it’s been a struggle in the past to figure out how do you keep employees happy? How do you attract and retain employees? And it used to be you think about money, but now it’s so many different things. And thankfully employers have started to look at their employees in a more holistic way. So you’ll find out now that money isn’t the most important thing to employees. So much of that is about relationship. So much of that is about the culture of a company, and how an employer cares about their employee. We’ve started to see that ramping up, but through the pandemic, it’s been huge to attract, retain and keep employees functioning. It’s been very important to look more holistically at the employees and that includes mental health.

Curtis: I suspect the work you guys do must be really top-notch and very special because HR is such a personal thing, and to do it across all of these different organizations, how do you maintain that? Keeping dignity in place, keeping personal connections in place, making it feel personal when you’re a little bit removed from each organization. How do you invest in that purposefully?

Mike: It is about relationship. It’s one of the reasons why most of our clients are based out of central Indiana, is because we want to have access to them. We want those employees as well as clients to have cell phone numbers. To have access to us. To build relationship. We could look to be more national in what we do, but then we wouldn’t be able to build the relationships that we do. So we think it’s really important that’s how we operate culturally, and it impacts how we develop our relationships with both our clients and the employees at our clients’ locations.

Curtis: I hear a CEO once recently say, ‘It’s not about growth. Growth is not good. Strategic growth is good.’ That sounds like you might share that mindset.

Mike: Absolutely. And that’s part of what the pandemic led to in a lot of different ways. All of our clients made it through the pandemic, but some of them did start right-sizing. There was a concept of growth before the pandemic, and now it’s like, ‘how do we really operate?’ And we did have some of our clients, that led to some reductions of staff as they walked through it. But some of that made sense because it was about strategic growth. Prior to that, it had just been about growth.

Curtis: Yeah. Has the pandemic in a weird way benefitted you because the ideal of being virtual, having people offsite, has become so much more the norm that maybe people are seeing your services as something that maybe was out of the box a little bit 10 years ago, not so much anymore?

Mike: I think that’s probably true. I don’t think we’ve seen a huge change in that again, our desire is to stay focused on building relationships with the folks that we have, but the concept of remote doesn’t scare anybody. And our ability to use Zoom before Zoom was cool helped serve us very well in the process.

Curtis: Let’s talk about mental health. Here at Restoring Hope with Crosswinds Counseling, we talk about mental health every week. As you look across the landscape of the organizations that you work with, what have you seen from an HR perspective of the mental health of the works in all of these different organizations in so many different industries? Dealing with the pandemic, what has that looked like for employees?

Mike: There’s no doubt that it is impacting employees in a lot of negative fashions. People are used to being with people, being cooped up in their homes. People who are used to having a social relationship or being out among clients, when that was taken away from them, it’s absolutely impacted employees. What’s been honestly really cool to see is employers recognizing that. It seems like wellness has been something that has been talked about for years, but it was usually about exercise and eating better, and doing those types of things. Finally, employers are really starting to understand mental health is as much a part of that as physical health in that way. And mental health leads to physical health in a lot of different ways. It’s been valuable to see how can we connect different tools that can help people in that vein just as a gym membership might on the physical side.

Curtis: Right. We’re kind of chuckling about that, but it’s true. They kind of go hand in hand. It’s hard to have physical health if you don’t have mental health. Sometimes it’s hard to have mental health if you don’t have physical health. They’ve got to work together.

Mike: Absolutely, and I think that is something that wasn’t as recognized by employers. I think the pandemic has helped to make that more clear.

Curtis: Yeah. Mike, let’s talk a little bit about what you see in terms of moving forward. I know no one has a crystal ball and no one can look beyond this pandemic, but how do you think we come out of this? How do you think it reshapes the business world, this last year and a half, 2 years we’ve gone through?

Mike: I think it has to focus on the individual because individuals handle the pandemic differently. Employers are starting to figure out a better way. So how do we provide employee assistance programs? How do we provide tools? How do we provide a quiet space in the workplace where people can go if they need to? How do we expand paid time off policies to include mental health days so you don’t have to plan just 3 weeks in advance just to take your time off? It’s looking at people as individuals and saying, ‘What’s your need?’ And I think that’s how we come out of it. That employers look at their employees as individuals and try to meet those needs.

Curtis: Awesome. Mike thank you so much for joining us tonight. Great conversation. Thank you so much for your time.

Mike: Thanks for having me.

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