Question: Throughout the year, Santa’s elves work tirelessly to build and wrap millions of toys. Santa is trying to find new ways to reward the elves in addition to his usual offering of maple syrup and candy canes. Do you have any ideas?

Answer: Yes! Santa is on the right track to think about ways to keep the elves jolly in this time of competition for key toymaking talent. Newer generations of elves may have different expectations for work-life balance and smart and merry employers may need to adapt their reward systems. Here are a few ideas:

Flexible work schedules
While the traditional 23-hour elf workday has sufficed for the last thousand years, the newer generation of elves appreciate more flexibility in their schedule. Allowing elves to set a start time that works for them, vary their schedule throughout the workweek, or even make toys remotely when possible will go a long way toward creating goodwill. After a large project is complete (delivering millions of toys on Christmas Eve, for example), it is an especially good time to offer shorter hours as a thank you for jobs well done (or toys well made as the case may be).

Say thanks
Santa is great at saying “ho ho ho” and exclaiming “Merry Christmas to all!” He should also say thank you and verbalize appreciation for the elves’ efforts. Numerous studies have shown that employees who receive regular appreciation for their work are more likely to stay with their employer and feel valued and committed. Demonstrating thanks with smaller gestures throughout the year is a great idea, too. Santa may want to consider ideas like setting up a candy buffet, bringing an eggnog bar to the workshop, or taking the elves to an outing or event, like a professional snowball fight, to show his

Elves of all levels of experience want to feel like there is an opportunity for growth and development in their careers, whether it’s becoming head toymaker or being promoted to the gift wrapping team. Tis the season to meet with the elves individually and map a course for career growth. Santa can also meet with teams to determine what they want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Employees want to feel heard and valued, and taking the time to listen will reap huge dividends for Santa.

Provide great benefits
Employers that offer benefits coverage that is as sweet as sugarplums are as wise as the three kings. Solid benefit offerings continue to be important to employees and help them feel the yuletide glow. Santa would be even wiser to tailor benefits to meet the needs of his elves and document the value of the benefits he is providing to show them their total compensation and benefits as the year winds down.

Offer personal days
Even elves need an occasional break from work to attend to personal needs, like doctor appointments or family care. Offering time in addition to regular vacation demonstrates caring and an understanding that an elf may need to address things outside of making Etch A Sketches to be a better, more product employee.

Good luck!