Why Being Nice—and Not Naughty—to Your Employees Pays Off

You take the time to train them, get them up to speed on company policies, and get them to work together as a team.  After all that investment, why would you risk losing your valuable employees by giving them bags of coal?

With the holidays underway, any good HR manager understands the need to stay on employees’ “nice” lists. Study after study has shown that employees who are treated with respect and given the freedom to realize their potential consistently outperform those who are treated like chattel or are micromanaged.

When it comes down to it, there are three things on every HR manager’s wish list this holiday season: productivity, retention, and engagement. With the right policies in place, and a solid effort to be “nice,” you should be able to get all of them.


CEO Santa Claus office christmas

The CEO of TribeHR customer Vidyard took “putting employees on the nice list” very literally.

Between salaries and benefits, employees are expensive. That’s why it’s a lot more economical to keep eight reindeer happy and hard at work than it is to neglect them and hire a dozen more. For employees, the metaphorical carrot is always more effective for soliciting a good performance than the metaphorical stick.

A simple act of recognition or a small bonus makes for an excellent carrot, provided that your employees feel they have a realistic chance of reaching it. Recognition not only increases productivity, but can also boost morale by letting employees know they’re valued and respected members of the team.


Finding, hiring, moving (all the way up to the North Pole), and training new elven toymakers is an expensive task that can add up to well over 50 percent of their annual salaries. By taking some simple steps to reduce turnover, you can introduce significant cost savings to the entire operation.

Sound retention policies start with the naughty list. Abolish organized “warning” policies. They are often counter-productive, as they can be demotivational both for employees who are subjected to them (their value is somehow less than other employees?) and for those who are not (they don’t need to work hard because they don’t have any warnings?).

Instead of trying to build cause to terminate an ineffective employee, it’s often more economical to simply terminate them without cause, pay whatever compensation is due, and train a more productive replacement (just make sure to comply with all laws in your local jurisdiction).


A long night of mundane gift delivery can grow tiresome for reindeer and elves alike. If boredom rears its head too much, mistakes can start to pile up. Each noisy landing, wrong address, and stuck-in-the-chimney incident means another minute waiting for eager children to fall back asleep, gift labels to be re-written, and people to be pried free.

To prevent mistakes, find ways to keep employees engaged in the job at hand. While this can require a delicate balance to keep things moving along, once a culture of productivity is developed, the going gets easier. Work to push employees outside of their comfort zones, so that they continue to learn new skills and be exposed to new projects.

Engagement can be as simple as assigning a creative task between monotonous jobs or as complex as developing teams that work towards goals just outside their specific areas of specialty.

In the end, staying on the “nice” list is as easy as keeping an open mind to feedback and working to continually make things better for everyone. When the results are productivity, retention, and engagement, it’s an easy decision to make, too.

TribeHR can be your carrot, and so much more. Recognize employees, get feedback, organize performance reviews, keep notes, track applicants, and meet your HR needs. Sign up free for 30 days or contact us today.


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