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High Turnover and Record Breaking Application Volume is Costing Santa $141,440,000 This Year

Adrian Dixon

December 13, 2018

A pain-point for many high-volume hiring teams, Santa’s Workshop woes are all too familiar for retailers around the world, pushing many to adopt new AI-powered technology

Elf Volume

Like many retailers, Santa’s Workshop employs thousands of elves year-round with a huge increase in seasonal hiring.

Analysts estimate that at any one time Santa’s Workshop is employing 60,000+ elves with an increase to over 85,000+ elves worldwide over the holiday season.

Repeatedly ranked among the top 10 in Top Elf Employer lists, it is no surprise that Santa’s Workshop is flooded with over 14,000 online applications every single week (2,000 per day!). Even with 18 skilled, full-time elf recruiters, The Workshop struggled to review each applicant this year. “Every elf dreams of one day working for Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” The Workshop’s Head of Talent explained. “We’re thrilled with the number of applicants we receive but it was beginning to overwhelm our recruiters and our time to fill increased.”

Retail Turnover

A sweeping problem for all retailers is an ever-revolving talent pool. Although the Workshop culture is highly regarded, Santa still experiences about 50% turnover year over year as elves leave The Workshop to attend school, relocate or move into another industry. These numbers, although high, are actually quite positive as the Hay Group reported as high as a  67% median turnover rate for retail employees.

As every talent acquisition professional knows, turnover is costly, regardless of volume. A recent CAP study reported that it costs, on average, $3,328 to find, hire and train a replacement elf.

Candidate Experience

For decades Santa’s Workshop was a leader in providing an excellent elf experience. With the proliferation of online job listings, research showed that one in every four elves on the job hunt was applying to more than 10 jobs. This backlog began to create longer candidate wait times, resulting in a poor candidate experience.

After retailers like ToysRUs announced the closing of many toy workshops in 2018, Santa’s team was flooded with eager applications. Unfortunately, as Santa’s recruiters were tied up with screening other applicants, talented elves were quickly swept up by other retailers like Hot Topic and Lush Cosmetics.

Recent studies have shown that today’s Elves want to be kept up-to-date on their applications status yet many find themselves in the “candidate black hole” and never hear back. Santa’s Workshop is currently deploying applicant chat functionality to keep candidates around the world updated at every stage in their hiring funnel.

2019 Plans

Good news is on the horizon as Santa’s team is heavily investing in Talent Acquisition technology for 2019. The Workshop employed AI for recruiting company, Ideal in late 2018 as their applications continued to soar. A strong partner in the tech space, Ideal promises to integrate seamlessly with Santa’s existing ATS, SantaFactors. Santa’s recruiters will be gifted around 30% of their day back to focus on more enjoyable, high-value hiring tasks.

Following the implementation of Ideal for Santa’s Workshop Elves, Santa is expected to roll out the new AI-powered recruiting process to other areas of business such as Reindeer Relations and GDPR Compliance.

Happy Holidays!