Top 10 Ways To Stay Off Of Santa’s Naughty (HR) List: Part 1

by | Dec 13, 2012 | Blog

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or

He’s making a list, checking it twice and going to find out who’s naughty or nice. Yes, we’re talking about Santa Claus. Who else?

It’s that time of year when the office gets a little more holly and the employees get a little more jolly. But just because everyone is on their best behavior now doesn’t mean your company made the nice list this year.

Don’t worry! We want to help make sure you don’t get a big lump of coal in your mailbox this year. That’s why today we’re giving you the Top 10 Ways To Stay Off of Santa’s Naughty (HR) List (and out of trouble with the EEOC and DOL).

We’ve broken this list up in two parts because it is so jam packed with information we were worried that your brain would explode!

And let’s be honest—this time of year we are all in a partial sugar coma due to the influx of sweet treats around the office and we can only absorb so much information at once.

Okay okay, put down that ginger bread cookie and let’s get started.

Top 10 Ways To Stay Off Of Santa’s Naughty (HR) List

1. Document, Document, Document!

As you probably know, the EEOC and Department of Labor have stepped up their numbers to crack down on businesses who are misbehaving. Don’t let that happen to you. Be prepared if plump man in a red suite or a DOL official comes knocking on your door. Make sure you know the EEOC and Department of Labor Investigation Process and what they are looking for.

By documenting everything that happens—good and bad—you are more likely to stay on the nice list.

2. Identify The Areas Where You’ve Had Trouble

We all make mistakes; no business is perfect. And Santa knows that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to improve. After all, remember he sees you when you’re sleeping.

You should develop assessment methods to make sure all your systems and processes are running effectively and efficiently. Identify that weak link and fix it!

You can start by identifying benchmarks and best practices in your industry and see where your organization could improve. Also, take a second to look up federal and state regulations that apply to your company.

Lastly, consider past employee issues and possibly past litigation and really work on how you can avoid future situations like that.

3. Hang All The Appropriate Posters

Before Santa comes down the chimney on December 25, you better make sure you have all the appropriate posters up. You wouldn’t want him to slide into an undecorated house!

There are numerous places to obtain posters. The Federal law posters are also online at poster page and some state posters are available on state websites.

4.Conduct an Internal Audit of Your Files and If Needed Take Corrective Action

How does Santa keep track of who is on the Naughty and Nice lists? Well he stays organized of course! And he is constantly auditing his lists to make sure no name is out of place. And you should do the same.

Conducting an internal audit of your files is an excellent way to safeguard your company from a nasty and expensive Department of Labor or EEOC audit. Here are some things you need to make sure you have in order:

  • Personnel Files
  • Medical Files
  • I-9s
  • EEO-1 Reports

Get out that new label maker Santa brought you last year and get going!

5. Review and Update Your Employee Handbook

Now, we’re not exactly sure if Santa uses an Employee Handbook (or in his case an Elf Handbook), but we are just going to assume he does. How else would the North Pole run so smoothly?

Ensuring your policies are written correctly as well as up to date with all current legislation and new cultural developments, such as social media and emerging technologies like tablet PCs, is extremely important. We recommend revising your handbook once a year, or at the extreme minimum once every two years.

Your employee handbook should include:

  • Introductory information
  • Employment and compensation information
  • Time off
  • Employee benefits description
  • Other specific information including the company’s policies on drug and alcohol abuse, workplace conduct, violence in the workplace, e-mail, voicemail and Internet usage, use of company equipment, employee privacy, smoking, education reimbursement or an employee assistance program.

There is no magic page number requirement—can be 10-50 pages. And make sure all employees (or elves) sign receipt acknowledgement.

Here are some common examples of vulnerable areas in the employee handbook:

  • Exempt versus non-exempt jobs
  • Inadequate personnel files (i.e. inconsistent discipline documentation, inaccurate/outdated evaluations, medical information)
  • Inconsistent application of attendance policies
  • Inaccurate time records
  • Inadequate I-9 documentation
  • Policies that provide for promises or imply an employment contract

Lastly, here are the most common mistakes companies make when it comes to employee handbooks:

  • Copying policies from the Internet
  • Failure to address all harassment protected by Title VII, not just sexual  harassment
  • Failure to revise handbook as policies change
  • Failure to notify employees of policy changes


Now that you have the perfect, bullet-proof Employee Handbook you need to make sure your employees actually follow the policies. Also you need to make sure your employee handbook is in line with applicable best practice, is in compliance with federal and state regulations and helps your organization achieve its goals. (Download our Free Employee Handbook Analysis Toolkit Here.)

Whew! That is a lot of information to take in. And this is only Part 1. Next week, we’re revealing Tips 6-10 To Stay Off of Santa’s Naught HR List.

Want a sneak peek? We’ll be tackling the problems with and giving you tips to improve your recruitment process, your compensation strategy, your employee training and so much more!

See you next week. Until them, remember that jolly plump bearded man is watching you! (We mean Santa…in case that wasn’t clear.)

Read Part 2 Here!


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