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Elizabeth Ajetunmobi: Spare a Thought For Your Domestic Staff… They’re Also Affected by COVID-19

It’s always good that your staff understands the reason, especially if it is solely for the affordability of salary. Who knows, someone can decide to stay with you and keep working during the rough times.

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Just like every other pandemic that has affected the world, COVID-19 has caused an impact on social interaction and global economies. This has not left family lifestyles untouched – the home front is basically where it might hit harder. If you have a domestic staff in your employ, here are what you should know and expect:

Pandemic Effect

Increased Workload

Due to the lockdown, families are mostly indoors and this affects your staff. They most likely will put in more work and face additional duties such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their family members – especially now that kids are out of school.

One way to help them not get overwhelmed is to guide them by scheduling their tasks and giving them breaks in the course of each day. Let the kids have a siesta – so everyone can rest, or they could go to bed earlier so that your domestic staff can also rest.

Loss of Jobs

With families facing job loss, delayed wages, or other economic insecurity, this may mean employers will delay or might not be able to afford to pay domestic workers and some of them will eventually lose their job. Losing a good and valuable staff can be painful and emotional but you can not let them work without provision or future arrangements for their pay.

An employer could discuss their own job loss with their staff if they are comfortable doing that and state the reason they are letting them go. It’s always good that your staff understands the reason, especially if it is solely for the affordability of salary. Who knows, someone can decide to stay with you and keep working during the rough times.

Post-Pandemic Effect

Increase in Demand for Domestic Workers

More industries are seeing the benefits of remote working and are gradually going virtual. Minds are being open to the reality of technology and digital innovations.

Now, we have more people working from home than ever before and companies are beginning to adopt these changes for their employees. Imagine parents trying to work from home with their children screaming the roof down. If you have kids, expect the level of difficulty watching over them to be inversely proportional to their ages. No matter the structures put in place to minimize distractions, you are likely to have at least one video conference featuring an unexpected guest. Add a baby and you are suddenly doubling as a nanny. With this pandemic and even during post-pandemic, there will be high demand for domestic workers in the nearest future.

The Shift in Negotiation Power

Domestic workers are also essential workers working to support families. It might almost be impossible to attend meetings online and actively care for children, especially the younger ones, most employers in this situation would need help with the kids. Consequently, this pandemic will awaken domestic workers in realizing their value, therefore giving them an upper hand in value-price negotiations.

Digital Literacy

With the awareness of technology improvement, career or business-focused families will be on the lookout for domestic workers who have the knowledge of basic technology. Now, the era of families prohibiting the use of phones and digital means of communication and information is about to be subdued. Domestic workers of our time are evolving, it’s time to let your staff become enlightened and save yourself lots of stress. Yes, there are negative sides to this but if you can put a structure around the use of digital devices in your house, you would gain more from the positive impact.

Wish you the best this season. Stay safe.

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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