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Elizabeth Ajetunmobi: Help! My Domestic Staff Keeps Checking Out on Me

domestic staff renders essential services within your home. He/she is usually responsible for seeing to the welfare of your priced possessions, which include your children and your property, so in a sense your domestic staff is a member of your team and deserves to be treated fairly.



Have you, or someone you know, ever had a domestic staff who just couldn’t wait to leave your home? Or a staff who quit all of a sudden, throwing you off balance? Did it make you wonder if you might have done something wrong as an employer? Did it make you wonder why they’d choose their “little homes” over your own “mansion,” which has everything you thought they could ever want? If you’ve ever been in this situation, chances are, as an employer, you probably didn’t pay attention to one or more of these critical areas:

Respect and dignity
Every human being is deserving of respect. Yes, even your domestic staff. A domestic staff is an employee just like any employee in any other organization. And just like you, your domestic staff needs to be accorded a level of respect for the work they do. A domestic staff renders essential services within your home. He/she is usually responsible for seeing to the welfare of your priced possessions, which include your children and your property, so in a sense your domestic staff is a member of your team and deserves to be treated fairly.

When a team puts undue pressure on one member, or if a team disregards the worthwhile efforts of a member, that teammate would gradually begin to feel demoralised and resentful. As with any profession, being treated disrespectfully naturally results in an inability to perform their tasks whole-heartedly. It’s a popular saying that a team is only as strong as its weakest member, therefore it is in your best interest as an employer to keep every member of your team, including your domestic staff, functioning at optimum level. The best way to keep your domestic staff working effectively is to treat him/her with respect and show appreciation.

Personal time and space
From our experience at Aymie Staffing Solutions, more domestic staff are seeking for live-out rather than live-in options. I guess the reason is not farfetched. No one likes to be confined to a place for too long. It gradually begins to look like a prison cell. As humans, we all have a legitimate need to “escape” our regular routines and find a place where we can let loose, unwind and be free from all demands, if only for a little bit. Or how do you think we came about “TGIF!”? This is one new age slang that has gained popularity and has been embraced by literally every demographic and generation because employees, regardless of their age, race, religion, etc., after working hard all week, look forward to the weekend when they can catch a break within their own personal space.

When a person isn’t allowed to enjoy some much needed personal time-out month after month, (s)he becomes stressed, irritable, ill, and ultimately unable to perform well on the job. It is really important that, as employers, we understand that our domestic staff are prone to the same needs as we are, therefore we must give our staff adequate time off to rest, unwind and regain their strength within their own personal space.

Obviously, no one is ever truly comfortable enough to rest within their work spaces, so asking your domestic staff to rest outside their personal space could be counterproductive.

If there is no personal space, then taking a break would be difficult and uncomfortable.

Fair treatment
A few weeks ago, a video of a little girl who was a domestic staff in a household went viral. This young girl looked to be about the same age as her employer’s daughter, and while the employer’s daughter got dressed in the mornings to go to school, the young housemaid stayed home to work. While the daughter of the employer slept on a bed in a well decorated room, the young housemaid slept on a mat laid on the hard kitchen floor. That video was a voice for those who employ underaged children to serve as domestic workers, but that’s a whole different ball game.

The focus today is how it’s rather unfortunate that the harsh conditions the maid was made to live through portrays the reality of many employers of domestic staff today, even among so called educated and enlightened members of society. Statistics from the International Labour Office state that domestic workers still lack the social recognition and many of the legal protections enjoyed by workers in other industries, despite the fact that their work has been instrumental in the greater participation of women in the labor market, which in turn has impacted the overall economic state of the nation.

Many domestic staffers who have families to feed and bills to pay are grossly underpaid, well below the minimum wage, and some are made to slave away only to be owed their meager renumeration packages for months on end. How can we let people who play such a vital role, and contribute such invaluable worth to our lives, both individually and collectively, suffer such harsh treatment? Take a moment to think about it. It can be really heart breaking.

Do you have domestic staffers who have left their homes and families to come cater to yours? Is there a way you can make life just a little easier for them? How can you show your appreciation to them for the value they bring to your team? What can you do differently as an employer? Think about it. September is Nanny Recognition Month, and we would like you to join our (#INominateMyNanny) campaign (on Instagram) to celebrate your domestic staff.


Elizabeth Ajetunmobi is a Human Resource Consultant, an educator, a Family Life Enthusiast who provides support to families, guides them in order to create systems that help families thrive. She runs a staffing and placement agency alongside a training school for semi skilled and domestic staff. Her vision is to professionalize the domestic staffing industry in Nigeria. She is an alumnus of University of Nottingham. Obafemi Awolowo University, Park Royal Finishing School, China Europe International Business School. Her experience spans several fields including Education , Family Life, Child abuse, Human Resources and Finance. She is a member of CIPD(UK), Member,ILM(UK) and Teacher’s Registration Council of Nigeria. She is a WIMBIZ mentor and has been featured on TVC news as well as a guest columnist on BellaNaija where she shares insights on how to build a mutually beneficial relationship between a domestic staff and their employers.

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