Imagine ... you are so busy with work that you have no time to look after your house. You decide (and luckily can afford it) to hire a domestic helper. By the way, when I was in India I learnt that it was normal for middle class and high class families to have domestic helpers who support them in running their household. I would like to share some tips when it comes to dealing with domestic helpers.
1.) Don’t call them “servants”, say instead “domestic helpers” when you are talking about them with someone else or when placing a job ad in a newspaper. No matter how low-skilled your domestic helpers might be, treat them as you treat anyone else, respect them and be kind.
2.) Greet any domestic helper every day with their name and a smile on your face. Don’t just look at them or nod your head upon arrival in the morning. Let them know that you are happy to see them. Ask them once in a while “How are you today?”
3.) Recently someone said to me “You don’t need to say THANK YOU to them, they get paid for doing their job!” That statement did not allow me to remain quiet (when I lived in India some years ago). Whatever job they do (driving you around, washing your clothes, cooking food for you, looking after your child, doing the grocery shopping, cleaning your house etc.) don’t forget to say THANK YOU and PLEASE when asking for a favour. Try it for one day, you will realize how often you are going to say it. It should just remind you of the fact that they do a lot of work that you might not want to do by yourself or you might not have the time to do by yourself or maybe you are physically not able to do. They are being paid for doing this job BUT many thank yous don’t cost you a single cent and can make a big difference. Think of yourself, you are also being paid for doing your job, would you not also feel happier and more satisfied if your boss once in a while lets you know that he is grateful for your contribution to the company? Or that you are simply doing a great job? Domestic helpers should not be looked at differently.
4.) Make sure you know when their birthday is. Give them a treat with a paid day off, a manicure treatment for those who do a lot of washing up and cleaning or another suitable gift. These are just few ideas how you can make them feel appreciated.
5.) When payday comes don’t just hand them over the money. What about writing a personal hand written note which says “Thank you very much … (name), I really appreciate your help and support. It makes my life really easier.” Followed by your salutation and signature. I do really believe that if you do this (e.g. the first month you hired a new helper) it might motivate them in such a way that the following month they might try to do the job even better. Think about it! YOU might be the first person who ever did something like this. I could imagine that for that person those few lines might mean more than the money received.
6.) Once in a while, when you feel they did something particularly well don’t forget to say things like “Well done!” “That’s great!” “Oh, I really appreciate that!” etc.
7.) Don’t shout at them. If they make mistakes accept it – remember nobody is perfect – but remind them graciously that they should not repeat the same mistake in the future again. And if the person makes a lot of mistakes, then you should maybe reconsider if the person is really the right choice for this job. Remember that shouting doesn’t help anyone in the end. It just wastes your energy and time and it surely doesn’t motivate your helper to work harder next time, on the contrary.
8.) Interact with them, get to know them a bit better. They spend many hours working in your house, so make them also feel important and that you trust them. It is important that they respect you and all your other family members (pets included) at any time.
9.) Never try to humiliate them in front of your guests or visitors. That doesn’t make you look good in your visitors’ eyes.
Let me tell you the nine benefits you might get when treating your domestic helpers the nice way:
- They will be more of a joy rather than a nuisance.
- They will cook your food with love and not spoil it.
- They will be more motivated to do their job quicker, more efficient and professional.
- They will be happier and smiling rather than frustrated and annoyed.
- They will not steal anything from your house or do any harm to it.
- They will turn up on time and be more reliable.
- They will work longer hours or at least not object so easily if once in a while they might be required to work longer hours.
- They will be less sick or absent from work. (It just makes your job more difficult because you might have to replace the person or do it by yourself).
- They will be more loyal and not look for other job opportunities anywhere else. (This means it saves you again time and money).
Some people might think these tips are pure exaggeration but I do strongly believe and experienced it first hand that the better you treat your employees (or domestic helpers) the more enjoyable it is for both: you and the helper. When it comes to dealing with people I don’t see any difference in being a manager and hiring employees to run your business or being a man/woman and hiring domestic helpers.
Remember, EVERYONE WANTS TO BE APPRECIATED, no matter what status, what age, what gender, what background, what race, what religion, what nationality, what appearance! As simple as that! I’m sure we agree – at least – on that.
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