Some families hope to find someone who will 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, possibly different, approach to communication, household management… With nannies, differences in child rearing can lead to misunderstandings in the employment relationship. Recognizing those differences is key to maintaining a harmonious relationship.
Taking into account their personal situation and responsibilities is important too. If they have their own children to look after, show flexibility in order to support their work/family life balance.
Communication and mutual respect
Every family, not to mention expat family, has its own set of expectations and very unique way of doing things around the house. Make sure you communicate your home rules and expectations clearly. Providing a detailed work schedule for house chores in the beginning of the employment relationship may help.
Most domestic workers do not come from Jakarta. It could your employee’s first time living in a city, using certain home appliances, or even taking care of a child outside her own family. Even an experienced worker cannot anticipate 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 will be deeply invested in her job.
Teach your employee to say ‘no’
In addition to the language barrier, many workers do not have the confidence to advocate for their own rates and may feel intimidated by an expat employer. This means they may agree to work overtime, or undertake additional work even if they do not want to. This will ultimately lead to tensions and decisions that will impact your family. To avoid such situations, teach your employees that it can be reasonable and safe to say ‘no’.
Showing respect and consideration
Greeting in the morning, making sure your staff finishes working at the agreed time, asking about their family, expressing gratitude for work well done, paying on schedule… All of these things may seem small but mean a lot.
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 work and 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. International SOS regularly holds First Aid training for household staff.