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Why Santa is the world’s best boss

Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Saint Nick… call him what you will, but 44’s Sarah Woods explains why he’s the greatest boss ever.

Google’s Larry Page may have come out on top in Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs of 2015 – with an impressive 99% approval rating – but that’s only because nobody asked the elves…

Can you imagine a more fully engaged workforce than elves? They deliver every year without fail, despite increasingly stringent toy safety standards and population growth. Elves are loyal, hardworking and great ambassadors for their boss – and they do it all with bells on. Literally.

Santa must be doing something right. So what internal comms lessons can we learn from the man with a belly ‘like a bowl full of jelly’?

Employee ‘elf and wellbeing

For Santa, the elves are his top priority – their health, their happiness and their engagement. Richard Branson famously said: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” Now, I’m not suggesting that Richard Branson is Santa, (although have you ever seen them together at the same time?) just that all great CEOs put their people first.

Clear deadlines and high expectations

Elves know they are working towards an immovable deadline. Missing it would result in millions of disappointed children on Christmas Day and irreparable damage to Santa’s reputation. Setting high standards and ensuring that employees are aware of what is expected of them is crucial. According to Harvard Business Review, “Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.” So make sure your people are aware of why a target is important to you and your organisation, and what failing to deliver on promises could do to the brand.

Training and development

The benchmark has moved when it comes to toys – a bag of marbles just won’t cut it in the digital era – so training and development are high on the agenda at the North Pole. Once the craziness of Christmas has passed and the elves have taken their well-earned rest, they spend a good deal of time in training and development, honing their skills and learning new ones to keep up with the changing market. In the CIPD 2015 Learning and Development annual report, research adviser Ruth Stuart said: “As the world of work continues to evolve at a rapid pace, we have a fantastic opportunity to encourage long-term sustainable growth in organisations through effective L&D practice.”

Social responsibility

What other CEO can boast similar air miles and, instead of creating an enormous carbon footprint, leave nothing more than a few harmless hoof prints behind? Santa’s caring nature doesn’t end with his employees; like many of our clients, he cares about the wider impact of his organisation. Being socially responsible isn’t just a nice idea, it’s what people now expect. Nielson’s 2014 ‘Doing well by doing good’ survey confirms this, with 67% of people saying they prefer to work for socially responsible companies.

Strong leadership

While some leaders sit back and let others do the hard work, Santa is always ready to get stuck in – and we’re not talking about the chimney. On Christmas Eve, he’s the one wrapped up in red delivering gifts around the world. And he doesn’t claim all the credit for himself – we all know that it’s the elves working hard in the workshop. Good bosses acknowledge and reward their employees. The 2015 Employee Recognition Report found that organisations that invest in employee recognition and years of service programmes experience better results.

So, step aside Larry Page, and let’s hear it for the man in red.

And if you’re ho-ho-hoping to improve your employee engagement, then why not give us a call in the New Year?


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