Illustration: Sam Glynn

We haven’t taken a good close look at Santa in the last few years so we are updating a past post on his dual roles as an employer and an employee.
Let’s consider that first and foremost, Santa is an employer. He runs a massive offshore toy manufacturing enterprise and a global fulfillment and delivery service. His operations perform a very important social function, but the work fraught with pressure and unforgiving deadlines.
It pains us to bring this up, but there is no getting around it—no matter how beloved he is in the world at large, as an employer, Santa leaves something to be desired. The people at Forbes have painted him as little better than a sweat shop operator, forcing his elves to work long hours at low pay.

“At issue is Claus’ treatment of his large elvish work force, which annually produces some 700 million toys with a market value in excess of $14 billion. Critics claim that the elves work long hours for low pay under hazardous conditions. Particularly at issue is Claus’ adamant refusal to give the elves any sort of health insurance and his stubborn insistence on keeping his manufacturing operations at the North Pole, where governmental oversight is nonexistent.”

Law firms both here in the U.S. and abroad note that Santa plays fast and loose with a host of employment laws, risking everything from workers comp claims to class-action suits for hiring discrimination. Some attorneys weigh in with their thoughts on these and other potential legal risks that Santa faces.
Now we are very fond of Santa, but frankly, some of these employment practices stink. So Santa, if you are listening, give us a call—we’d be happy to enroll you in our online Management Academy free of charge. We’ll gladly throw in some stress reduction counseling, too!
Santa is also an employee
While Santa is most famous in his role as an employer, he also moonlights as an employee. In the months running up to his busy season, he often takes jobs in department stores. This gives him a chance to earn a little extra cash while engaging in some hands-on market research with his primary customer base. The department store gig is not an easy job. Although it pays pretty well, the uniform is uncomfortable, there’s a high exposure to germs, and many of the customers are disgruntled.
Now a word to the wise for the department store hiring managers: Maining best hiring practices is important – don’t cut corners just because you are hiring a seemingly trustworthy guy like St. Nick. Given his exposure to the public, it might be worth running a background check for arrest warrants, sexual offenses and other criminal matters to protect your organization from potential liability. And once you’ve hired Santa, the job is not complete—meticulous on-the-job training is vital. Plus, you may want to conduct an ergonomic assessment of his job—the nature of his work presents lot of potential for on-the-job injuries. And you will definitely want to refer him to your EAP program—a recent survey reveals that Santa’s job can be very stressful!
esi.JPGWhen Holiday stress gets to be too much, an EAP can be a lifesaver. Learn how ESI Employee Assistance Program can help address your employees’ wellbeing issues – from a wellness benefits and help for everyday work-life matters to comprehensive assistance for a wide array of potentially disruptive issues and problems. To learn more about how ESI EAP can help, give us a call: 800-535-4841.


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