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How to manage your domestic help

Dictionary defines ‘domestic worker’, also called ‘domestic helper’, as a person, male or female, who works within the employer’s household. Many often refer to them as servants or maids. Cooks and nannies also fall in the category of domestic help. One must understand that they are professionals albeit in the lower rung of the employment table. Therefore, how you treat them will reflect on their attitude and how long their tenure will be with you.

Every individual has self-worth and the domestic help is no exception. Though the work they do is often mundane and monotonous, it would be the employer’s resourcefulness to boost the self-worth of the domestic help that would cement a long term relationship.

In many homes the domestic workers are subjected to serious abuses and exploitation. Never abuse the domestic help or use foul language against them as this could lead you to trouble with authorities. Your behaviour should always be above board. Your domestic help should feel more comfortable with your family as this could be mutually beneficial.

First things first; your domestic help is not your slave. If you adhere to this first premise, you should not have any difficulty in your domestic help having a long tenure with you. It is another matter if the person employed is a habitual offender and not trustworthy.

Even though the agency or the domestic help themselves tell you that they are properly trained, you would still need to impart some training to them according to your methods. Do not assume that your maid knows everything that you want her to do. She is not a mind reader. It is you who must communicate clearly and advise her role and what your expectations are.

Explain their duties with a proper briefing so they know what is expected of them and what is not. Be reasonable in the amount of work that you expect them to handle and be gracious enough to pardon silly mistakes. If they voluntarily take up duties that they are not mandated to, let them know that it is of their own volition. You will be surprised at the amount of extra work they will do just because you are nice to them and respect their work.

Make them familiar with the time schedule that you follow and give them reasonable time to become fully acquainted with it. If there are any house rules that you would want them to follow, let them know and explain, in a friendly manner, why you want them followed, especially if you have small children in the house. It makes good sense for the lady of the house to apprise the maid of her personal preferences and encourage consistent feedback. Keeping them in good humour is seen to work well for long term service.

Do not encourage gossip but give incentives for good work. Remember, a good word, a kind gesture and a smile goes a long way. When you give presents to your family during festivals, include him or her too. It makes them feel part of the family but ensure the gift is not cheap. A simple celebration on her birthday, if you know it, will strengthen the bond.

The very fact that they are called domestic help means that they are to help you in your work and not be your clone. Do not expect them to do everything for this would lead to drudgery and dissatisfaction. Do not be over-dependant on your domestic help for this could lead you to be in a weak position should there be an unreasonable demand for increase in wages.

Many households frown upon the domestic using mobile phones. You cannot totally restrict them but can instruct them firmly to regulate the usage. This should be insisted upon at the time of employment. Never leave valuables unattended as this could be a reason for temptation.

If you have young children and have to leave them with the maid, you should be extremely confident of doing that. This confidence can only be gained if your relationship with the domestic help has gained the utmost level of mutual trust and instilled a sense of loyalty in them.

Having a good domestic help is a blessing and this does not come automatically; you have to work towards it. As they say, give respect and get respect. You will be surprised at how well this works. So, begin today, if you have not already done, and treat your domestic as a real person with feelings and sensitivity, just like you.

Stanley Varghese for IndiaProperty.com

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