Take some time to help your new helper settle in
Settling into a new job can be tricky. This is especially the case if your helper is living far away from home. Moving in with their new employers, while at the same time settling into your their new job can be daunting. Make the transition easier for your new helper by taking some time to help your new helper settle in. They’ll be happier and work harder, and everyone is a winner. Here are a few quick tips for helping your new domestic helper settle into their role as a helper in Hong Kong.
#1 Remove language barriers
If your new helper doesn’t speak the same language as you, or doesn’t speak it very well, help them to learn. Ask if she would like to take some night classes or just make sure you spend time talking to them. Open communication is important for both sides. Give your domestic helper a list of words that they will need to know in their role so that they understand what you mean. If you have other helpers make sure your new domestic helper can speak with them to get her bearings. Even if you speak the same language, always be on the lookout for miscommunication. Don’t tell her you want an early dinner, but tell her what you mean by “early”. For some people this means 6 pm and if you meant 8 pm, the food will have gotten cold. With other words: use basic words and ask her to confirm in her own words so you know for sure she understood you.
#2 Ease them in to their new job
If your new helper is replacing a helper that is leaving, try to have both helpers overlap their time by a week or two. Your old domestic helper can show the new helper what they need to do and how. She can take her to the supermarket and show her where she can find the brands you like. Your old helper can also brief her on your preferences and the things she does that you may have forgotten about. For example, she will know that you like to have your tea with 3/4 of a tablespoon of honey. Although it will cost you one week of double wages, your new domestic helper will be more efficient immediately, saving you time and money in the long run.
In case your previous helper has already left, take some time yourself to show her around the house and neighbourhood. You can also ask your children to show her their favorite neighbourhood playground, where they take the bus to school and so on. Talk to her so she feels welcome and also understands your family a bit better. You can also ask her about her own family and her previous experiences with having been abroad. Your new helper will appreciate it and you will know a bit more about her.
#3 Make a list
Make a detailed list for your new domestic helper where you explain what you expect from her and what she ought to be doing on specific days and times. Make it easy to read and refer to, but detailed enough to be useful. Go through the document together so she will understand what is expected and she can refer to it when she has forgotten something. During the first days, you can do some tasks together so that you can show her how you want her to clean. Some employers have different cleaning preferences than others. Your helper will not known yours, unless you show her.
Finally, be patient and considerate and remember that the settling-in phase won’t last forever!