HR Strange But True!
December 11, 2003

We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...

Santa to the rescue

Given the state of the economy, lots of people need to make some extra money this time of year, and according to, an increasing number of them are doing it by working as part-time Santas.

Some "professional Santas" find that the extra income can help during a lean year, but many continue in the role after retiring from their day jobs.

"The monetary rewards are nice when you're on a fixed income," says Jim Heichelbech, a retired executive from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He declined to say what he earns as St. Nick but estimated that Santas can earn $5,000 to $20,000 for six weeks' work., a site operated by The Wall Street Journal, notes that there are approximately 1,300 indoor malls in the U.S. On average, each employs one full-time and one part-time Santa. An average of 8,758 children visit each mall, which means almost 10 million children will sit on Santa's lap during the holiday season.

The pay for your low-end, pillow-stuffed, cotton-bearded Santas can start at $7 to $15 per hour.

Of course, there are certain requirements. Most Santas must submit to a background check and need to be careful to keep their hands where they can be seen at all times when talking to children, according to In addition, Santas need to be jolly round the clock. "You need to be as cheerful at 8 a.m. as you are at 10 p.m.," Heichelbech says.

Santas moonlighting from white-collar jobs see parallels between their full-time careers and their part-time stints. Heichelbech, for instance, says that when he asks children what they want for Christmas, he tries to keep in mind that he's helping to make money for his employer.

And the job requires leadership: It's not easy keeping the elves in line.


TGIF - It's HR
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