Keep Your Employees Focused During the Summer Months

July 13th, 2012

The long days, warm sun, and blue skies of the summer season may bring in a tide of relaxed attitudes and an atmosphere of general well-being. But this season, as all experienced managers know, can be very hard on productivity. Happy workers are not always as diligent and focused as we’d like. This doesn’t mean we need to stem the tide of positive energy and crack down on wandering minds and “mental health days.” We just need to find a way to turn this lazy hazy vibe to our advantage. Here are a few tips that can help managers keep project goals on track when vacation season sets in.

Maintaining Productivity During the Summer: Considerations

1. Stay on top of vacation scheduling. The vast majority of vacation, leave time, and PTO hours are requested between the months of May and September. So make sure that you implement policies requiring plenty of notice when employees schedule multi-day vacations, and make sure you avoid excessive overlap.

2. Don’t crack down. Find a way to keep the dress code in effect and keep vacation requests organized without coming off as frantic or over-aggressive. If you need to issue a reprimand for Monday morning lateness or inappropriate footwear, do so privately, and don’t send out an angry, company-wide reminder. Keep your memos and messages restrained and respectful.

3.  Acknowledge the pull of human nature. If employees are taking excessive lunches, rein in the offenders (again, privately), and offer an extended lunch break once a week for a group powerwalk or pizza delivery. 

4. Show appreciation for the employees who stay noticeably focused. If you have a few steady team members who are never late and always judicious with leave time and project deadlines, reward them with gift certificates or choice parking. Engage competitive instincts by launching contests with prizes. Even a little extra verbal praise for your hardest workers can go a long way.

5. Instead of fighting the season, celebrate it with predetermined concessions to summer brain drain. Schedule a session of Friday afternoon mini golf, for example. Or offer a surprise Wednesday ice cream-run lasting no longer than an hour. Implement casual Fridays if you don’t offer them already. Organize themes like Hawaiian shirt day or funny hat day. This will help you acknowledge the need for summer fun while containing the potential fallout.

Still need help corralling wandering minds this season? The Des Moines, IA staffing experts at the Palmer Group have plenty of ideas. Reach out today and let us answer your HR and management questions.

Job Skills to Look For In New Hires

June 29th, 2012

Most experienced hiring managers have a strong understanding of what they don’t know. Early in our careers, we approach the interview process hoping to capture every piece of candidate data and close down every possible element of hiring risk. But as we grow, we come to recognize that data can only take us so far. After that, it’s time to roll the dice.

In other words, we all take chances with our final hiring decisions. We have to, otherwise we’d become paralyzed by our options and our positions would remain unfilled. With that in mind, there are a few telling traits that managers can search for among potential employees. These traits suggest a host of more complex qualities that tend, more often than not, to lead to success regardless of your specific industry.

The Hiring Process: Search for These Valuable Characteristics


The working environment is complex, and adversity and setbacks lie around every corner. Many of these setbacks take the familiar forms of criticism, condemnation, embarrassment, obstacle, and failure. Does your candidate bounce back fast from these events? Does she learn from them and put them behind her? Or does she carry the sting of these setbacks indefinitely, allowing them to influence her future decisions and limit her willingness to take risks? Choose resilient, steady candidates who shake off rough moments and move forward fast. 


Can your candidate do her job (and even go the extra mile) with limited resources? Does she always have one eye on the company budget and is she genuinely interested in cutting expenses and strengthening revenues? Look for candidates who see the big picture and stay tuned in to potential ways to save money.


How do you imagine your candidate responding to a sudden budget cutback? A staff shortage? An unexpected schedule change? Flexible candidates are those who stay focused on long term goals, and when they need to, they can turn on dime and come up with completely new ways to meet those goals. Flexible candidates improvise solutions to problems, and they thrive even in the absence of predictable circumstances or clear directions. 


Empathy is a powerful business tool as well as a powerful life skill. Can your candidate easily place herself in the position of another person, be it a client, coworker, top executive, or member of your target market? Empathy allows a great candidate to navigate the world of complex human behavior and anticipate what others want and need.


Consider the candidate across the desk during your final interview. What does she really want? Is she just looking for a way to pay the bills? Or does she genuinely care about your line of work and the customers and stakeholders you serve? Passionate candidates take their work to heart and weave it into the fabric of their identities. If you see this passion in your candidate and you fail to act, recognize that your competitors won’t be so hesitant. Do you want her on their team or yours?

Are you navigating tough hiring decisions? Our team of expert HR pros can help. Contact The Palmer Group, your Des Moines, IA staffing specialists.