How To Benchmark an Elf’s Job

It’s that time of year and all of Santa’s Elves have been working overtime. As with many folks who work overtime, that means many of them have felt overworked and underappreciated. Despite their holiday cheer, many of them have walked into Santa’s office in the past week, asking for a raise. Busy himself, Santa turned to PayScale to determine the best way to handle his elf compensation.

Now we all know that elves are compensated in cookies, not dollars, but we thought that a good starting point would be to understand the dollar value of each of the elf roles at the North Pole.

Some fine print: We matched each job using a similar benchmark role. For example the Toymaker elf uses “woodworker” as a title match. All were matched at 15 years of experience – while Santa’s elves live hundreds of years, we felt that 15 years was sufficient to demonstrate value at proficiency. And finally, while we couldn’t use the actual North Pole, we did take an aggregate across the full US. Yes, Santa’s elves are really world-wide workers, but bear with us here, it’s the holidays! With the ground work laid and the jobs matched, we had a sense of how the jobs are typically valued, so Santa could understand the relative worth of the Elf roles.

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In our initial chat, Santa was surprised that the Wrapping elf was so low! After all, what little boy or girl wants to see their tree with poorly wrapped presents below? “Well, Santa,” we informed him, “just because that’s how the market values that role, doesn’t mean you have to value it at that level.” We reminded him that the market is intended to provide him with a guideline for how to compensate the Elves, but it’s not an exact science. There’s some art to consider as well.

We dug a little deeper in our conversation. It turns out the Reindeer specialist has enjoyed his work thus far, but would really like to work inside. The Conductor Elf has always had an eye on being a Planning Elf. And actually, the Head Elf has enjoyed her position for the past 50 years, but would sort of like to take a step back to focus on making toys again for a while. Through our chat with Santa, we helped him realize that when his elves start to grumble about being appreciated enough, they may not actually be asking for more cookies. They may want a different work assignment. They may be priming him for some time off in January. They may just want him to stop and say Thank You once more. We know Santa’s pretty good at that kind of thing, but nobody’s perfect.

Ultimately, taking the time to look at the facts behind how his Elves’ roles are valued, Santa was able to really think about not only whether or not he’s doling out cookies right, but also about the long term commitment of his Elves. By inviting a discussion with each Elf, Santa’s well on the way to ensuring he’s got his best Elves in the right roles that continue to keep them merry and bright. I suspect next year, Santa will plan ahead to have these conversations well in advance of the holiday season.

Here’s wishing you and yours happy holidays & a prosperous New Year!



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