We’re back for round two of HR lessons from holiday movies. Last week we discussed how Bad Santa reinforced the importance of background checks, A Christmas Story proved the value of training and Rudolph demonstrated that ignoring behavioral characteristics could cost you a star employee.

We wrap up the series with three more holiday classics that, in addition to hours of family fun, offer valuable insights into how to build a strong, productive workforce.

A Christmas Carol

It’s been remade dozens of times but no matter which version you watch – Scrooge, Scrooged,  Mickey’s Christmas Carol, etc. – the plot is the same: a crotchety work-a-holic  focused only on the bottom line sees the error of his ways and vows to make a change for the better. In addition to the life altering affirmation that he was a grump, Scrooge made a huge change in his business recognizing that his old method of demanding high performance was not producing the best result. Instead he began building employee engagement by thanking his top performer – Bob Cratchit – for hard work and rewarding him with career growth. Employees determine 90 percent of a business’s profitability so you can’t overlook employee engagement. Even if you can’t afford to give everyone a raise, there are other ways to build engagement and increase your employees’ productivity.

Home Alone

A power outage leads to the McAllister family scrambling to make their flight to Paris and in the hysteria Kevin is left behind. Kevin’s excitement to have the house to himself turns to determination to protect his house after hearing robbers discuss breaking in at 9 p.m. Kevin thinks ahead and stages a set of intricately planned booby traps to keep the robbers from catching him and buy time to call the cops. Had Kevin thrown together some obstacles at the last minute, his defense would not have been as solid. Planning is everything, but hourly schedules are often driven by consumer demand, which is near impossible to predict. Just-in-time scheduling may help you keep labor costs down, but it can also result in instability, absenteeism or turnover. Take a close look at the relationship between labor costs and labor demand to determine a more predictable staffing need and use a tool that will let you communicate schedules via email or text to give employees as much notice as possible.


After crawling into Santa’s bag as a baby, Buddy is raised as one of the elves but he quickly realizes he’s different when he can’t make toys as fast as the other elves. He leaves the North Pole to find his biological father and ends up working in the mail room at his father’s publishing company. Still not the right-fit position, Buddy almost gives up until a series of events reveals his true calling – a children’s book writer. Having a wrong-fit employee can be costly to you in terms of lost productivity and to the employee in wasted time in a job that will go nowhere. You can avoid wrong-fit employees by sourcing candidates from a niche job board, assessing behavioral characteristics up front and conducting background checks to confirm experience.

Holiday movies reinforce important life lessons, but they can deliver crucial HR lessons too. As you’re watching holiday movies this season, ask yourself what would happen if you did or did not act the same way in your business. You may uncover some tips to manage your hourly workforce and perhaps some resolutions for 2012. Happy holidays and happy hiring!