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Babafunke Bobo: Your Domestic Staff & You



The story of the Nigerian middle to upper class – mostly the middle class, I’d say, as the upper class probably pay their staff well enough to earn their loyalty – is the frustration of having to change domestic staff (nannies, drivers, gardeners, helps, cooks, etc) It is almost close to the frequency with which personal wardrobes are changed. Case in point – I cannot count the number of drivers that passed through our home while growing up.

On countless occasions, I have experienced frustrations of family, friends and colleagues as they lament about how unreliable, annoying, lazy, etc their domestic staff turn out to be. I have even had my own lamentation sessions. Even though driving can almost pass as a hobby of mine under the right conditions that is – a ride that respects itself (no frequent visits to mechanic) with a music player and air conditioning that works and no insane traffic; I got into a position where I had no choice but to hire a driver, we didn’t last for up to six months… but that story is not for another day.

Over the years, the rate of crime committed by domestic staff is on the rise and sadly with increased sophistication. I remember as a kid an occasion when my mom discovered the spoils of our help under her bed in her room. She had somehow stumbled into ‘loads’ of cash and gone on a shopping spree for cutlery pieces, underwear and I can’t remember what else. Nowadays, we are faced with helps taking children and demanding for millions, working with robbers to clean out their bosses, and sadly in some extreme cases, murdering their employers.

In light of these recent developments, I’d like to share some tips with individuals on both ends of the stick (the employers and the employed) on ways in which we all can hopefully make the relationship more cordial and beneficial for both parties.

Here are a few suggestions on boxes to tick when engaging domestic staff:

  • Draw up a fair contract stating clearly the terms of employment (emphasis on fair). One thing I have noticed is many at times there is usually an undefined scope of services. Someone is engaged as a nanny to take care of kids and becomes laundry man/ car washer/ gateman/ market shopper and the list is endless. I am not trying to draw up a job description for your help, but be sure that the scope of work is defined upfront and the pay is commensurate to the services being offered.
  • Again, be fair – it’s a hard knock life and the economy is definitely not playing. I know, but try to do the best you can in defining the salary for your staff. Yes, resources are limited but try not to think of cutting a good deal for yourself alone. Consider the needs that are to be met by your staff with their salaries. The salaries they receive should at the minimum be able to provide them with food, clothing and shelter. In cases where you employ parents, imagine they also have kids to care for and educate as well.
  • Consider your position as an opportunity to contribute your Corporate Social Responsibility quota to society. Make it your personal goal to ensure that people who work with you end up as an improved version of themselves when time with you is over.
  • Be kind: ask about their welfare, family, future plans. Be genuinely concerned or train yourself to be…almost everyone can spot a phoney act.
  • Always be security conscious: be careful in your conversations, dealings and try not to be too predictable in your routine
  • Pray for discernment and wisdom.

For the Domestic Staff…
Be diligent, loyal and patient…no good deed goes without reward, no matter how long it takes. Always assure yourself that every good thing will come. Never give in to evil.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Andrey Popov

Babs is a career woman living in Lagos. In the little time not sucked up by work, family is priority and everything else gets squeezed in. From time to time she makes notes on her thoughts, observations and that other ‘voice of wisdom’ that sounds in her head.

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