Elf engagement at the North Pole has been overhauled, resulting in its highest ever engagement score. We asked the Chief Elf Officer (CEO) how they’ve done it.
What’s the history behind employee engagement at the North Pole?
Being an elf’s a vocation so, although it will never make them ‘welfy’, we’re lucky that our workforce is a dedicated one. Making wishes come true on Christmas Day is an amazing project to be part of.
However, just because our elves are passionate, it doesn’t mean we have it easy. Until you’ve seen the operation we run, it’s hard to imagine the level of preparation required to ensure that Christmas Eve runs without a hitch and that the right presents are delivered, on time, to 1.9 billion children.
What are your biggest challenges?
Elves enter the profession as youngsters, and employee turnover is extremely low. Our oldest elf is 3,548 years old! Keeping them engaged for so many years and introducing new ways of working to those who are set in their ways is tricky. Then there’s the post-Christmas lull to contend with. Plus, we employ 550,000 elves, so uniting them is another challenge.
What is your strategy for keeping them engaged?
Since Christmas 2015, it’s been to empower, involve and appreciate them, every day.
It’s not groundbreaking, but it works. We want the elves to understand that they are all important parts of a giant jigsaw, grasp the bigger picture of where they fit in, and know that they can make a huge difference. And lastly, we have made Santa far more visible, following feedback that the elves thought he was always off eating mince pies, yet still got most of the glory at Christmas.
So what have you done differently this year?
We’ve made lots of changes in conjunction with our IC agency. Our biggest success has been introducing an elf app called Appy Christmas. It’s taken a while, but 90 per cent of the workforce has now downloaded it as their schedules and pay slips can be accessed on it.
In December 2015, we began trialling Facebook’s ESN, Workplace, which has turned out to be a wonderful tool for collaborating, networking and generating ideas. Through Workplace Live Santa now broadcasts live video message updates to all elves, wherever they are. It’s broken down barriers between Santa and the elves as he’s so active on it and they can see what he’s really doing – and that he’s a busy guy. Everyone’s on a level playing field on Workplace.
We’ve also relaunched our employee magazine, The Grotto, so it now focuses on in-depth features that you wouldn’t want to read on a screen.
The Tinsels – quarterly awards through which Santa recognises and rewards high-performing elves – have been introduced. They’ve been great for elf-esteem and for ensuring the elves know they’re appreciated.
Lastly, we’ve introduced fortnightly lunch and learn sessions with the reindeer. It’s addressing a disconnect between them and the elves, and now that the elves can remember all of their names, things are really improving.
What does The Grotto app involve?
It’s a great for instantly sharing news and announcements – and it encourages two-way conversation. We use it for polls and pulse checks, which empowers the elves and allows them to have their say. There’s also an Elfstagram section where the elves share Elfies, and Santa occasionally comments on them, which is driving engagement.
What have the results of all this been?
Our elf engagement survey has shown that we have 89 per cent engagement, which is extremely high. More than ever, everyone knows their own roles in conjunction with everyone else’s, which means less error and duplication, and more success.
On most days, you’ll find whistling, cheering and smiling across the workshop, mail house, wrapping and loading departments – everywhere. Safe to say, smiling’s our favourite!