Emplify works with a lot of big companies, but this year, we worked with our largest customer ever — North Pole Industries — the world’s largest toy manufacturer and 2nd largest delivery service (behind Amazon).
North Pole CEO, Kris Kringle, reached out to us with some major concerns about his largest employee group — the workshop elves. He said their productivity has declined over the past two years, and he sensed the team was disengaged in their work.
He said that while he had no hard data to prove the elves were disengaged, he could just feel it in his belly (which shakes when he laughs, like a bowl full of jelly). Unfortunately, this was no laughing matter.
After 2017 resulted in their lowest production numbers in decades, Kringle and the North Pole executive team wanted to get to the bottom of things right away. The company fills literally billions of orders each year — and when your customers are good little girls and boys, you simply can’t let them down.
Actionable feedback straight from the workshop
Emplify’s Engagement Strategy Team got right to work, measuring employee engagement across North Pole Industries. While analyzing the data, three particular findings from the workshop team stood out:
1. The workshop elves scored lowest in the company on competency, meaning they feel ill- equipped to complete their work tasks and unable to meet their goals.
2. The elves also scored low on professional development, indicating the organization isn’t providing them with adequate training and development opportunities.
3. The elves also scored slightly lower than other departments on purpose, which relates to the connection an employee feels to their work and company mission.
To dig deeper into these issues and get some actionable feedback, Emplify additionally sent custom SmartPulse surveys to the workshop group.
First, the elves were asked questions around capacity. Here are a few of their responses:
“I’m putting in 20 extra hours a week (on top of my regular 95-hour work week) just to meet my personal goal of 45,000 Monopoly games. I’m exhausted, and an elf can only drink so many eggnog Red Bulls in a day.”
“I feel like our business model could be more efficient. Our customers are literally placing their orders via handwritten letters and sending them through snail mail. C’mon man, it’s 2018.”
The responses around professional development also shed some light on issues the elves were having:
“We aren’t getting enough training to build high-tech toys. Back when I started in 1843, I was making wooden trains and dolls. Now I have to make iPads and hoverboards. I didn’t go to EIT (The Elf Institute of Technology), so no, I don’t know how to build a graphical processing unit.”
“I’ve been on the workshop line for 386 years, and I’d really like to explore another area of the business, like sleigh maintenance. But only the younger elves get to join the sleigh apprenticeship. Elf Boomers like me get overlooked for new opportunities.”
And when asked about the sense of purpose they feel at work:
“I love working for North Pole. We have a lot of good employees who really care about bringing joy to children, and Mr. Kringle is a good man to work for. But being in the workshop, we never get to interact with the end users, so we don’t get to see the joy on their faces. I wish we could hear more stories from the front lines.”
“I get why we do what we do. But I’ve always wondered… where does the money come from? As far as I know, we give 100% of our products away for free.”
Kringle and the leadership elves take action on feedback
With this new quantitative and qualitative data, the North Pole leadership team now had the insight they needed to take action. Kringle worked with his Emplify Employee Engagement Strategist to come up with a plan of action for the upcoming quarter.
Here were their first three action items:
1. To address capacity issues: Bring in 50 elves to the workshop from the Cookie Quality Assurance department (which was already overstuffed), and pair them each with an experienced elf on the toy line. This will allow them to shadow the toy makers as they provide extra assistance and relieve some of the burden in the workshop.
2. For professional development: The executives will coordinate with the workshop management team to spearhead weekly training seminars where the elves can come learn and get certified in new skills. They will also provide the team with peer mentors from other departments they may be interested in, which can lead to an apprenticeship after one year.
3. To strengthen purpose: North Pole leaders will begin holding an annual company meeting on January 1st. At the meeting, Kringle and the rest of the executive team will share open-book financials along with team wins from the holiday season. The Elf on the Shelf team will also share real success stories straight from customers’ homes (which isn’t creepy at all).
Since kicking off these new initiatives, North Pole has seen immediate results. The workshop team had their best Q1 in 178 years, and the employees are loving the new programs. As of Q3, the team’s Emplify Score has improved from 65 to an impressive 82 — taking them from “disengaged” to “highly engaged.”
Today, the workshop elves are as jovial as ever, and the organization is projecting a record-setting holiday.
“Our workshop hasn’t been this efficient or collaborative in 200 years. Emplify helped us get to the root of the issues, and helped us come up with smart, manageable solutions to resolve them. I’m so proud of our team and excited to see what we accomplish this year,” says Kringle.
Do you want to see results like these? Emplify is here to help you sleigh your employee engagement goals in 2019.