Sometime last year, I had a radio interview at one of the leading radio stations in Nigeria. I discussed the state of domestic staffing in Nigeria. When the lines were opened for listeners to call in, several people called to ask questions. A lady called and said “I hate domestic staff, they are a necessary evil, I hate all of them,” and before my host could respond, she went off the line.
I was unhappy about this lady’s statement. Obviously she had been badly burned in this regard. Although, the host advised her not to use such negative words toward others, I couldn’t help thinking “What would have caused this woman to get to this point?” Sometimes, I wish there was a magic wand to help all employers do their bit and help domestic staff play their part, and we could all live happily ever after.
The truth is we cannot keep doing things the same way and expect different results. I think we need to put lots of structures in place and work with the government to get it right. I look forward to a time when you’ll hire a staff and they’ll know what to do from the get go. Your domestic staff resumes duty, they follow the rules and regulations you have written in their employee handbook, and they just flow from the onset. It is a journey, and I can say from experience that we are on our way to getting things right.
Try these new approaches:
Have an employee manual for your home
This document would have written in it the way things are run in your home. From the way you mop the floor, to the way you change your baby’s diaper, with how food is prepared and how the staff needs to wash their hands. For example, you could write:
Steps to Change Baby Diaper
- Set diaper, wipes and waste bag.
- Place child on the changing mat.
- Take off baby’s diaper.
- Fold neatly.
- Use wipes to clean baby’s bottom.
- Tie the used diaper in a waste bag and dispose in the restroom.
What you are doing is helping your staff get used to following structure to work effectively. After a while, they will flow easily with the standards you have laid out. This document can be used as many times as possible to onboard your new staff. You can also ask your domestic staff questions from time to time about what they should do in different situations. That way, they know that you are serious about the handbook, and they will take it seriously as well.
Be professional from the start
Don’t start out with giving gifts. If you start that way, it becomes a challenge when you need your staff to step up or improve on their job.
Once your staff resumes, be sure to provide them with all they need to work. Provide them with the tools they need. Be professional, not nice. Let them see a loving and firm side of you. The truth is no matter who you employ, they do not know what to do in your home except you tell them, so be sure to tell them all they need to succeed on the job.
Have a good remuneration package for your domestic staff
Instead of giving gifts, hand them an employment letter from the onset and list their benefits (this should have been agreed upon at the interview stage).
Salaries, monthly/quarterly allowances if any, duration of probation period, perks on the job (scholarship for children, 13th month, etc.), appraisal scores and techniques (if you get an A, you will be entitled to get this, if you get a B, you will be entitled to get this). I think the staff would have several things to look forward to on the job if these benefits are clearly listed.
With these in place, your staff will work with excitement, as they’ll have something to look forward to. Trust me, they will do away with their own excesses because they want to benefit from their package. Is this not how people excel in their jobs in the corporate world? In more professional settings, because individuals know that they will be appraised yearly or bi annually – as the case may be in different organisations – they look forward to the increment in salary or benefits of getting a great appraisal. They put their best foot forward at work. This same principle can be a huge game changer of all your bad experiences with the staff.
Before the interview stage, list the core skills you need your staff to have. Please don’t just know it in your head, write it down. List those skills because your needs as an employer changes from time to time. You want to be sure that you get the hiring process right.
Take time to onboard your staff
Your domestic staff is your team member. Their success on the job will help you focus on other important things. Equip them accordingly. Even with people who are experienced, let them know how things are done in your home. No two homes are the same.
I wish you the best. Kindly write me at [email protected] if you need to clarify anything.