Santa…Where Have All My Employees Gone?


By Lisa Powers

If one reviews Santa’s hiring practices and employee retention, he seems to really know what he is doing. He has not lost a single reindeer to fly his sleigh in hundreds of years and his elves seem to come back year after year!  This is despite working in freezing temperatures at the North Pole and being overworked each season only to be forgotten by Dec. 26.   As we look at Santa, we cannot help to compare things to our own organizations.  What have you been doing to retain and motivate key personnel?  As the economy continues to improve, how will you do in 2018?

First, we have to understand why key employees leave organizations.

As the owner of Career Options (a staffing firm), we interview hundreds of people each year and hear similar reasons for leaving companies. Some leave because their company is in financial turmoil or because they are not being compensated fairly (not always the result of the manager’s decisions).  While compensation is an important aspect, it is rarely the only reason a person chooses to leave.

However, the following reasons can be within your control as a manager.


Employees no longer feel challenged.  Here, I am not referring to advancement or climbing the corporate ladder because that is not for everyone.  Instead, this has to do with the chance to learn new things or have additional job responsibilities.  Boredom causes great dissatisfaction in jobs. If we look at Santa’s elves , they are no longer looking to build just dolls and red wagons. They love to creative, be cross trained and try new ideas.

There is nowhere else to go or advance to!  Surprisingly, many employees are told they are “too valuable” in their current position. But what occurs if managers are afraid of losing their best employee and fail to offer new opportunities?  The employee eventually leaves anyway for a company that can offer new opportunities and upward mobility.

Their current culture is non-family orientated and non-flexible.  More and more people are seeking balanced lives. They are not looking to work 60-70 hours anymore but instead seem more flexible schedules.

And many leave simply because they are not feeling respected or valued by the company as a whole. Many take extra classes, stay late or volunteer for projects, without a simple thank you. Santa is wonderful at this………. He is in the chaos with the elves, patting them on the back, and thanking them for a job well done!

Remember, as the economy improves, unsatisfied employees will start looking elsewhere for employment. Here are some things to think of before they offer you a resignation letter.

Don’t Wait For the Two-Week Notice

The time to show your appreciation is when an employee is an active, vital member of your team. Work to resolve key issues before they become reasons to look for a new job.

 Make New Employees Feel Welcome

Once the first-day paperwork is completed, introduce them to staff and be sure to offer adequate training. Santa did this as well and took care of Rudolf from day one…… welcoming and nurturing his spirit and soul! 

Have Fun

Use your imagination! Some of the best ideas can cost you zero, but they are priceless when it comes to boosting employee morale.

 Lead by Example

When employees detect mixed messages, it can be very unsettling. Employees are often asked to go above and beyond, but the company has to offer a little as well.  When you practice what you preach, you do not just have employees, you have partners that are willing to stick with you through the tough times as well as the good times.

When Christmas rolls around, you see Santa working alongside all the elves late into the night ! The elves may not be happy about working extra hours, but if they see Santa pitching in too, they will be far less likely to complain!

Santa may not have it all figured out yet, but he sure has some strong leadership skills. Lead and motivate your own team today and you will be surprised at their loyalty and dedication in the future.

Cheers and happy early holidays…

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