Some families hope to find an employee that will eventually become part of their family, while others want to keep things professional. There is no right nor wrong here as long the relationship is based on open communication and mutual respect.
Get to know your employee
Your employee’s upbringing and education will have given them their own unique, possibly different, approach to communication, child rearing and running a household. Those differences can result in misunderstandings or challenges in the employment relationship and recognizing them is key to maintaining a harmonious relationship.
Taking into account their family dynamic and responsibilities is important too, because if they have their own children to look after, you will need to show flexibility in order to support their work/family life balance.
Communication and mutual respect
Every family has its own set of expectations and unique way of doing things around the house, so make sure you communicate your home rules and expectations clearly. You may find it useful to provide a detailed work schedule for house chores, at least in the beginning of the employment relationship.
Keep in mind that most domestic workers do not come from big cities and it could be the very first time your employee finds herself in an urban environment, using home appliances, or taking care of a child outside her own family circle. Even if she’s experienced, never assume she can fully understand your unique household requirements.
Provide regular feedback and create a relationship that encourages workers to ask questions, report potential incidents. Let her know whenever she does well and give constructive feedback when you feel she needs to improve in a certain area. Remember that an employee who feels heard, seen and cared for in the home will be deeply invested in her job.
Teach your employee to say ‘no’
Many workers do not have the confidence to advocate for their own rates and may not feel comfortable saying ‘no’. This means they may agree to work overtime, or to undertake additional work even if they do not want to, which will ultimately lead to tensions and decisions that will impact your family. It is important to teach your employees that it is reasonable to say ‘no’ and that you want them to feel safe and happy at work which sometimes means saying ‘no.
Showing respect and consideration can also be in the seemingly small things: greeting in the morning; making sure your staff finishes working at the agreed time, asking about their family; expressing gratitude for work well done, and paying on schedule.
Many domestic workers have not studied beyond primary school and have not received formal training, which may lead to a lack of understanding about their obligations and possible poor performance.
Even for experienced workers, the knowledge they have acquired with previous employers may not entirely apply to your own family. This may give rise to a need for further training in order to develop your employee’s skills in a certain area. If you have have a newborn, you may want your employee to undertake training by a midwife on newborn safety and care. Similarly if you have a child with a food allergy, you may require more formal medical and first aid training to ensure your employees understand the serious risks.