NCTV17 Business Connection with Liz Spencer

Welcome to Business Connection.

I’m Liz Spencer the host of NCTV17 Business Connection. We’re on location today at Tandem HR with President and Founder, Bruce Leon, to learn how they can help your business with all your HR outsourcing needs. What is a PEO and why does a business need one?



Bruce Leon: We believe a PEO is a great resource for a company to help them grow and to help them manage what has become incredibly burdensome for them to deal with. All of the compliance, Obamacare, and all of the regulatory issues that are required to run a business have become very, very difficult to navigate. We can take the administrative HR burden off of the businesses’ hands so they can focus on their core business. This allows them to really grow their businesses much quicker, to be more profitable.

Bruce Leon, President and Founder

Liz: Right, because most of us employers didn’t get into our business to do the HR part.

Bruce: For sure you didn’t.

Liz: It’s really complicated and we’re working with these people, so it’s much nicer to have you do our HR for us.

Bruce: To give you an idea of how complicated, we’re currently in 47 states with a different wage minimum in every county, city, or sometimes township. Not just in Illinois but across America. Today people have virtual employees or maybe they have employees working in Atlanta with one salesmen in Idaho and one in California and there are really different employment laws in each of these places. Our clients can just relax and not worry about that stuff – because we are going to take care of it.

Liz: I noticed that you are IRS Certified. Tell me a little about that.

Bruce: That’s a big deal.

Liz: It is a big deal. It sounds like a big deal. Anything with the IRS to me is a big deal.

Bruce: The law now clarifies the PEO relationship and gave us a lot of benefits. One of them was this idea that we can become IRS certified by taking on all the employer responsibilities of our clients in regards to payroll tax. So now, if something isn’t correct the authorities come down on us. It’s now our responsibility to correct it and that takes a lot of burden off of employers.

Liz: We thank you for that, I don’t want that burden. How did you get into all this?

Bruce: They say starting a business is half by accident and half by inspiration. I have had a benefits consulting business here for about 30 years, so about 10 years before we got into the PEO business. If you remember in the mid-90’s we had Hillary Clinton and a lot of discussions about changes in healthcare. I really felt that down the road there were going to be changes to healthcare and that small businesses, especially, would not benefit from.

At that time, the PEO industry was taking off in states like California and Florida. So we thought, “let’s bring it to Chicago.” The Midwest has been very slow to adapt to outsourcing. In other areas of the country, about 20-30% of the small to mid-size businesses outsource HR. In Illinois, less than 5% do. There is a lot of growth potential, but it’s just now really starting to take off and we are seeing a lot more interest from employers. People will call us and ask ‘what does a PEO really do and how would this work?’ They realize it doesn’t change anything about their relationship with their employees.

Now they have leverage when attracting those employees that enjoy working for small or mid-size businesses but may feel a big business would offer more in terms of benefits, HR, career development, retirement packages. Now those smaller businesses get that with the PEO.  I tell the 130 employees that work here, “we have a mission to help support small, mid-size businesses and family businesses so they can grow and prosper and really help overall, help the country compete on a global scale.”

Liz: Talk to me a little bit about your community involvement. That’s important to you. Why?

Bruce: We’re part of the community here. We have to educate and work with nonprofits and with the business community. We set up several programs here to help encourage employees get involved in the community. One of them is that we match their donations, up to $500, that they contribute to any charity of their choice. To try and get them more active with non-profit organizations, we give them up to four hours of paid time per month to volunteer.

Those are the ways we encourage our employees to get into the frame of mind of assisting charities. I encourage all of our managers and executives to take positions on Boards with charities and with other Chicago institutions. I think it’s just important for them as people and it will make them better executives. We want to be a part of the community here, so it’s something that we stress a lot.

Liz: That’s excellent, well it was so nice to meet you. I’m sure you’re going to have continued success.


Liz: Welcoming Salo Doko, Executive Vice President and Chief Client Officer of Tandem HR. Hi, Salo! So tell me a little about what makes Tandem HR different from other services like it?

Salo Doko, M.A., PHR, SHRM-CP

We have a lot of great people here! I think the biggest differentiator for us has been our ability to attract great talent and put that talent in a position where they can be a contributing factor to our mission, our vision, and our values. In a lot of ways, they make the difference. It isn’t the technology for us, even though our technology is great. It’s not necessarily about the business model, even though our model is wonderful. It is our people. They are the ones who have touched the clients on a regular basis. They’re the ones who make an impact with the worksite employees. If you were to go out here and talk to our people and ask, “what do you love the most about working at Tandem HR?” they would say it’s the ability to make an impact.

That’s what makes Tandem HR different. It’s really our people and that’s the foundation of it.

To add to that is our business model. It’s the ability to come up with a customizable solution for our clients. What want to know – what makes our clients who they are? Let me learn about your values. Let me learn about your culture. Then we come up with a solution that’s circled around that and make sure that the two of us are just mirroring, fitting just right. That makes Tandem HR different from our competitors.

Liz: Well that’s wonderful. I think that sums it up really well. It’s not one size fits all. What types of businesses come to you? Who are your clients?

Salo: It really varies. It can be any organization, it truly can be. Any industries, any size. We do need to keep their size in mind. An organization with 50,000 worksite employees will require a different solution than a smaller company. What makes it special and makes the partnership last is the culture and value of the organization. When they match Tandem HR’s the relationship lasts a long time!

Liz: What is your culture and why is that so important?

Salo: It’s critical! I think everything starts with culture. Ultimately, it’s about how people feel when they walk into the office. When a visitor or prospect walks through our workspace, how do they feel? Do they see people smiling? Do they see people collaborating? That’s the culture.

We bring our prospective clients in to show off our people because that’s where it starts. Culture is defined by our values. Our values include focusing on clients, really focusing on one another, really focusing on being dedicated to our success and provide exceptional service for our clients. In addition to that, I would say that our culture is very collaborative. It is very easy going and totally fun.

Liz: That’s wonderful. Thanks for taking a few minutes to describe it. We wish you a lot of success and we know you will be successful!

Salo: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.


Tandem HR

For more information visit or call 630.928.0510

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