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Elizabeth Ajetunmobi: 7 Mistakes You shouldn’t Make When Hiring a Domestic Staff

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Having a domestic staff is a relatively important need in a household, especially in families that have both parents as working-class citizens and also have children. There are many benefits attached to having a domestic staff assist with running the affairs of your home: they could make life easier for you by being in charge of duties that include seeing to the basic needs of your children; having a parent-figure around the house to be with the children while you’re at your business; carrying out house chores and other household activities. However, hiring the right domestic staff could be daunting because it requires a lot of time and you paying attention to details. Here are some common mistakes employers make when hiring a domestic staff:

Undermining the cost that comes with having a domestic staff

The cost of hiring a domestic staff could hinge on a lot of factors like the socio-economic situation of the country, the level of experience of the staff, and the number of days or hours scheduled for constant work. A lot of times, employers do not consider this so they hire domestic staff, have them work overtime, and then underpay them. We all know this doesn’t end well, as the staff starts actively looking for another job and does not give you maximum attention.

Looking for a ridiculously cheap domestic staff

The honest truth is that it is not cheap to get the right people to do the right thing, so looking for a cheap option is not advisable. As tempting as it sounds to pay an extremely low salary domestic staff to run the affairs of your home, it could give room for a lot of loopholes. For example, there is every chance that you would get a half-baked domestic staff for a ridiculous price because a well-experienced staff would most likely not sell him or herself short, considering the nature and dynamics of being a domestic staff. Also, the level of professionalism you would expect from a domestic staff might not come with one who is being paid minimally and you would have to be constantly reminded that you are not paying adequately for the required service.

Not running an identity verification or a screening before hiring

This is actually one of the riskiest mistakes that can be made by anyone. It is such a serious endangerment process to hire domestic staff without checking their existing records. It would be highly unfortunate to open your doors to someone who has unacceptable records of fraudulent or criminal activities in the past.

Absence of boundaries

Forgetting the significance of boundaries is a common mistake made by domestic employers. Fostering a personal connection with your staff might create a wide gap in the official relationship, and it might become a problem to state whatever reservations you have regarding the work output. It could even lead to overfamiliarity which could propel one party to take advantage of the other person or any given situation. It is best to seal official agreements as strong as possible and keep personal relationships at bay.

Absence of a contract

Not sealing official agreements could pose a serious danger to both the employer and employee. It could lead to lots of complicated situations. Thus, an official document that states the responsibilities, leaves, payment structure and method, and the termination clauses should be given to the staff to read through and sign. This would ensure that both parties are on the same page as regards the terms and conditions surrounding the job.

Ineffective communication on the part of the domestic employer

It is said that communication can only be called effective when the other party fully understands the message that is being passed just the way it was intended by the speaker. A lot of times, faulty communication, little communication, or no communication at all about issues that are meant to be discussed and trashed are core causes of accumulated problems between the domestic staff and the employer. Try as much as possible to relay important information to your staff and make the communication process as clear and concise as possible.

No prior orientation about modes of operation

Every household has its unique mode of operation and terms of reference, this should be passed down to the domestic staff by giving them a detailed explanation about the manner in which affairs are run in the house. Unfortunately, this is not done by a lot of employers because many assume that the employee would know what to do when he or she comes on board. People vary, hence their life patterns would definitely not be the same.

These tips should work perfectly when hiring a domestic staff:

  • State the terms of reference, the responsibilities of the staff, and any other information that would be useful in a binding document. Do not underestimate the significance of a contract. This would be a source of reference in dicey situations.
  • Communication should be clear and concise always. Try as much as possible to avoid ambiguity when relaying information to your staff. Speak to them regularly using simple words and always encourage feedback from them.
  • Give them the necessary orientation they need on how to run your own household. Fill them in on peculiarities associated with your home, this would help to prevent recurring mistakes and oversights.
  • Do not scout for cheap domestic staff. Instead, look for professionalism and competence. It would make things easier for you and give you less stress.
  • Do not undervalue your domestic staff. They are very important people too. Pay them as at when due and give them the agreed stated in the contract. 
  • Find ways to motivate them from time to time. Trainings, giving rewards and incentives, and bonuses could help in motivating them.



Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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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