Establishing a positive relationship with your helper is important, especially if you envision a long-term hire. This means you will have to handle domestic helper problems carefully.
“My children are not allowed to eat sweets during the week, but I can tell from their behaviour that the helper gave them candy. Should I fire her?” Some employers are quick to terminate their helper’s contract when they do not following instructions. Others would rather only have a serious conversation with their helper. And yet other employers will just shrug their shoulders and think to themselves that they probably would have caved as well.
When you are managing your helper, inevitably there will be helper-related problems and irritations. These can be small, for example the helper always puts the eggs on the top shelf rather than in the door where you prefer them, but they can also be more serious, for example, secretly smoking inside the house. Employers most often encounter small annoyances, but they can become bigger over time if they are not dealt with. It is important that you manage your employee when you can, before petty annoyances lead to frustrations and possibly even resentment. Most employers will only face small problems since serious problems are rare.
1. Not all problems are major – decide which ones you need to deal with
A boyfriend wearing pulled up white socks is often considered a deal breaker, but some women simply do not care. The same goes with domestic helper problems. What is reason for terminating a contract for one employer is not for another. Asking others for advice can help you solve your current problem, but do stay true to your values and beliefs.
When you handle domestic helper problems, consider the severity of the problem. Most issues do not warrant any action other than asking your helper to do something differently if her method is upsetting you. Also, ask her about her side of the story so that you can better understand what the problem is.
2. Handle differences carefully – talk to your helper
Remember that your helper comes from a very different cultural and social background. What is normal for you, may not be for her. A very simple example could be: should the peanut butter be put in the fridge or not? This practice differs in a lot of families, simply based upon their upbringing. The key is that when you handle your domestic helper problems, you need to have open communication. When you gave her an assignment did you tell her very clearly what you wanted her to do? It is fairly easy to find out where the problem lies, by simply asking her.
If you discuss the problems with your helper, make sure she does not feel attacked because this will probably not lead to solving the problem effectively. If you are angry, cool down before you discuss things with her. Sit her down with no distractions and talk things through. She may have a very valid reason for doing things the way she does.
3. Following up is necessary – decide on an action plan
After you have talked to your helper, you will have to decide on how to handle the issue. You may have already done this during your chat, but sometimes it will be best to think about the issue for a while. And make sure you are both clear about the way forward, being sure to let her know if she is making the same mistake again. For example, your helper might consistently feed your children junk food instead of the healthy vegetable meal you had planned. Make sure that you both understand what was agreed upon.
4. Have an open communication channel – make your helper feel appreciated
Just like you might have irritations with your helper, she may well feel the same. You are her employer, but she also has to live with her employers with little privacy. At times your helper will prefer to do things a different way. This is especially the case if you prefer her to be independent and take her own initiative. She will do things a certain way and over time will become confident with her own skills. This doesn’t have to be a problem, instead turn it around and ask her to share her experiences with you during your chats. For example, you may find out that she prefers making her own floor-scrubbing soap because it cleans stains better. You will be happy you didn’t fire her immediately when a speed bump came along.