Santa Boss

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Santa Claus must have a really great PR Firm. Think about it, he went from the Bishop of the small city of Myra in the Fourth Century to become one of the most recognized figures in the world. His image has been on products ranging from Coke cans to Camel Cigarettes. Children wait hours in line to see him. He’s been the subject of countless television shows and films (including one of my favorites – Miracle on 34th Street). To most, he is seen generous and kind. But don’t let all that fool you – as an employer he leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve experienced my share of bad bosses. From the manager who wrote someone up for the improper use of a box cutter after he badly cut his finger to the one who used to tell us to use staples instead of paperclips because staples were cheaper. Yet none of them come close to Jolly Old Saint Nick himself.

First off, he’s the offshored his manufacturing operations, taking good jobs away from people who need them. And he didn’t just move his manufacturing to some developing nation, he moved it all the way to the North Pole. Santa Claus is Coming to Town, that stop-motion classic, would have you believe he did this to escape the evil clutches of the Burgermeister Meisterburger. Untrue. The real reason for the move was so that he could work free of regulations that protect workers. OSHA the IRS and the Department of Labor have no jurisdiction at the North Pole. There’s no minimum wage, no overtime laws. He’s free from paying payroll taxes.

Ah the workers. We all know that he employees only elves to work in his workshop. Only elves! Where’s the diversity? You might say that elves are a minority, but not in a place where everyone is an elf. A six-foot tall man can’t even get an interview, no matter his qualifications. Santa is practicing a form of height discrimination. I’m guessing that Santa hires elves because of their diminutive size. They are cheaper to house and feed, and it makes it easier from him to loom over and intimidate them. No Napoleon complex there.

As for working conditions, we have no way of knowing how clean his workshop is, how safe, whether or not it is adapted for workers with disabilities. No inspector has ever set foot inside it. What we do know is that he has created a company town far away from any regulators. A place were the elves must both work and live if they want to keep their jobs. We can see from other examples how that works. Whether it was the Pullman Town of the Industrial Revolution or modern-day the Foxconn facility in China, they are often rife with employee abuse, low pay and poor working conditions.

Santa would have you believe that all the elves spend the year happily making toys and whistling while they work (sorry, those are dwarves). But do we know this for sure? We don’t even know if they get paid, or if they do, how much. And if they do want to do something different (be a dentist perhaps?) it’s not like they can leave. There are hundreds of miles of frozen tundra between them and civilization (and no, Buddy, you’d freeze to death trying to walk it). He has a captive workforce that he can treat as badly as he wants and still maintain zero turnover.

Then there’s all that watching and judging. The NSA’s surveillance program pales in comparison. Sure, he says he’s only watching the kids, but don’t you think someone like that would also be watching his employees? Spying and sitting in moral judgement of who’s naughty and who’s nice (who is he to decide?) is no way to build the trust of your workforce.

But the worst thing about Santa as a boss is something almost everyone knows, but is somehow overlooked. We even sing a song celebrating it. Santa has fostered a work environment rife with intimidation and harassment. Case in point, that most famous reindeer of all, Rudolph. Simple because his nose glowed, he was subject to ridicule, name-calling and exclusion by the others. Santa may not have participated, but he knowingly allowed it to happen. It was only when Rudolph showed he had some value during that foggy Christmas Eve that Santa and the others started treating him with respect. In other words, he wasn’t treated well because of who he was, but because they needed him. Notice how you never hear about what happened to Rudolph after (not accounting for the horrible Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, which lacks any creditable sources)? No doubt, the next Christmas, when the whether was clear, Rudolph was grounded, ignored and forgotten without any severance or unemployment insurance

So let’s face it, Santa makes Scrooge (pre-ghost years) look like a candidate for the Best Boss of the Year award. I’m sure he doesn’t care. He’ll fill our stockings and place presents under our trees just like he always has, and keep abusing his employees regardless.

Kind of like Walmart.

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