If you thought hiring a helper was difficult, you will quickly realise that managing may be even tougher.
It is important to think about the kind of relationship you want to have with your helper before she joins your family. The first hours and days are the time where you can let her know your preferences, your standards and your values. Especially if this is your first hire try spend some extra time so that you don’t end up having to look for another helper within months. Key to a good employer-employee relationship is mutual trust, but how you get there is different for everyone. Read more about what to do for the first day of helper in Hong Kong.
Deciding Your Values
There are many things you will have to decide on before your new helper starts, define your expectations and if possible write them down. Make an extra copy so you can give these to your helper after you have gone through your notes with your helper. Examples of things you may want to think about are: do you want your helper to call you Ma’am and Sir or do you prefer to be called by your first names? Do you want to install cameras in your home or is that a bridge too far for you? Do you want your helper to join you for dinner or do you prefer to eat separately? Do you want to treat your helper as an employee, friend or family member? Of course it also depends on your helper and her personality, but knowing your own expectations and clearly communicating those will set you up for a successful relationship.
Welcoming Your Helper
Make sure you allocate enough time to welcome your new helper. Try to avoid running off to work within 5 minutes after she has arrived. Remember that she has come to her new work place and home. She will need to be given a list of her job duties with specifications as to how they are done. This means spending time to teach her. Spend time with her to walk her through the house to explain where the mugs are, where the clean towels are put, where the grocery bags are and so on. Show her how you like the bed to be made and how the washing machine is operated. Give her some time to get adjusted, but also take her to the supermarket to show her what products you like to buy, especially if you prefer certain brands. Show her the neighbourhood and give her some time to get used to everything.
Talk about Culture
Most helpers come from Asian countries and they may be unaware of your family’s customs if you come from other countries. Talk to your domestic helper about the local laws so she knows how to avoid getting into trouble. If you follow certain cultural traditions yourself, you always want to discuss this with your helper before or directly after she starts so there will be no unpleasant surprises on either side.
Be realistic and don’t expect your helper to do everything exactly the way you do it from day one. As with every new job accept that your helper will make mistakes. Be patient and explain something again if needed. Employees across industries and companies are often trained for weeks before they know all the ins and outs of the job and they are expected to make mistakes. Give your helper a few months to learn during which you make her feel trusted and appreciated. You can tell her if you don’t like things to be done a certain way, but if you are constantly screaming or snarling at her this will impact her performance and your relationship. Also be open to things being done a different way, ultimately it is the end result that counts. Unless your helper is dishonest or abuse, be patient and give her constructive feedback.
Don’t forget that moving to a new job and home may have an impact on the helper as well. She will have to get used to a new neighbourhood, a new supermarket, a new house and a new family. If she is new to Hong Kong she may not know anybody and feel lonely. You can let her know where helpers go to in the weekend, find some workshops where helpers go to or introduce her to some neighbouring helpers. If she is a first time hire, your helper may find it difficult to be away from her family especially if she has children. Be there for her as an employer, support her and treat her with respect. Your relationship will be harmonious and your home will be near perfect. Just give it time.