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Santa’s HR Checklist
December 2006

Auditing Your HR Practices

It’s that time of the year to look forward into your 2007 HR operations and make solid resolutions to bring your practices into “Best Practices.”

Here’s a list of items to consider enhancing for 2007:

  • recruiting, interviewing and selection – timely, on-target, non-discriminatory practices
  • new hire administrative handling – compliant and consistent
  • orientating new employees for success – planned vs. ad hoc”
  • HR administration and personnel files – organized, confidential, systematized
  • regular communication methodology – regular meetings, effective written tools, etc.
  • employee relations – proactive and reactive strategies
  • written policies and employee handbook – understood by all and administered consistently by all leaders
  • disciplinary action, documentation and termination – ensure consistent accountability across your organization
  • performance systems – informal on-going feedback, job-specific performance tools, and trained appraisers
  • employee training – skills training, development plans and harassment and other compliance training
  • management training – training for new and experienced managers to attract and retain the best employees
  • compensation compliance and administration – ADA compliant job descriptions, accurate FLSA categories, appropriate compensation structure, timely market analysis
  • employee benefits – cost effective benefits to match your employee demographics and organizational needs
  • HR laws and postings – compliance resources and current and visible state and federal posters

Of course, if I can assist you by conducting an HR Audit for your organization or to bring any of your HR practices into Best Practices, give me a call.

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Making a List
And Checking it Twice

I’ve decided to take a light holiday approach to HRxaminer this month. I was thinking about Santa as entrepreneur and was wondering whether he would pass an HR practice and compliance test. So enjoy this tongue-in-cheek approach and perhaps it will provide a mix of chuckles and practical reminders.

Let’s start off highlighting the Santa, Inc. operation. We know he has a fiscal year of December 26 – December 25th which coordinates perfectly with his mission to complete the toy building and distribution operation on December 25. It appears that everyone knows the Santa, Inc. mission well and pulls together as a team to accomplish it with glee.

Santa, Inc. understands the demographics of its target market and has a sophisticated database to effectively track customers based on naughty or nice. It’s important that Santa, Inc. employees also have a thorough understanding of the clientele to target the toy operation appropriately.

Speaking of Santa, Inc. staff, the employment area raises some concerns. Only recently through various Santa, Inc. documentaries do we have our first glimpse at their creating a more diverse employee population. Earlier, Santa, Inc.’s staff was comprised predominantly of male elves. Only recently have we seen female elves actively participating in all levels of the organization. Of course, Mrs. Clause has been in a leadership position for years as CFO and VP of HR. But it’s time to break through the ice ceiling and allow more women into the executive ranks.

On another EEO note, I believe Santa, Inc. would pass the Americans with Disabilities Act, since they have a long history of making physical accommodations to ensure that the elves are able to perform all the essential functions of their positions.

Copyright (c) 2006 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

HR Practices Naughty or Nice

So let’s look at the employee relations issues Santa, Inc. might be facing. My first concern is the long work hours. I hope that the elves are being paid in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Most of the elves should be classified as non-exempt and should be eligible for overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a given week. If they’re being paid on a salaried basis out of convenience, Santa, Inc. could be facing 1000’s of dollars of back pay for unpaid overtime.

I’m also concerned about Santa, Inc. safety systems. We don’t hear much about Workers’ Compensation claims or OSHA violations, but with all that toy construction, considerable travel at night, and the hazards of icy roofs and dusty chimneys, someone needs to start paying close attention. Of course, the working conditions can’t be too bad, because we never hear about a high level of elf turnover.

Then there’s the issue of health cost containment. I’ve heard they offer milk and cookies at every break and we can see that Santa himself has been taking too many breaks. I recommend that they take a look at their health plans and see what options their carrier has for weight loss and exercise programs.

Well I think that covers most of the audit. If you’d like a second opinion on your HR policies, practices and compliance, give me a call.

Copyright (c) 2006 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,

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