How can domestic helpers work in a co-worker team successfully?

Domestic helpers have different capabilities and experiences regardless of how long they’ve been working. The employer as a manager will need to start managing a co-worker team, not just an individual. Therefore, creating a harmonious working relationship should be a high priority.


Consider the needs of the household.

The common reasons for hiring an additional helper are usually due to an increase in workload such as the birth of a new child, moving to a bigger residence, or taking care of the elderly. With more responsibilities, it can be difficult to monitor how things get done so it’s important to have a clear and fair division of duties.

Employers can divide the duties by specialization, frequency of tasks, or introduce a rotating schedule. Matching the strengths of the helper to the domain they are responsible for can also help maintain a good working relationship. Furthermore, domestic helpers will benefit from a clear list of individual job tasks and shared job tasks so they know how the employers will be evaluating them.


Consider the needs of the helpers.

  • The employer should ensure that helpers have suitable accommodation. It’s common for female helpers to share a room, but the Immigration is strict when it comes to helpers of the opposite sex. Unless the male and female helper is legally married, the Immigration requires the employer to provide separate accommodation.


  • Each helper will have their preferred day off arrangements. Respect that they have their personal obligations outside of work. Employers can enquire about the helpers’ vacation plans as early as possible to avoid misunderstanding later on.


  • Working as an individual and working as part of a team can have different results. In the hiring process, helpers can provide suggestions based on their knowledge and experience. Employers will benefit from involving the current helper in the decision making process, especially if the helper will be supervising the additional helper.


  • Helpers are humans too who can make mistakes. Making sure that there is a time for evaluation and feedback throughout the employment period can ensure the co-worker team’s success. Sometimes it can be as simple as the schedule not being followed, or tasks are not shared equally as it used to be, so employers should be proactive to avoid conflict and awkward situations at home.


What does a successful co-worker team look like?

Every employer-employee relationship will be different but we believe in the lasting benefits of a good match, including between co-workers. When a harmonious working relationship exists, the whole household should feel it significantly. Priorities are communicated and the family members provide positive feedback about the helpers’ performance.


How can domestic helpers become effective co-workers?

  • Communicate expectations clearly. Both employer and domestic helper should have boundaries on each of their roles, behaviors and responsibilities.


  • Set up communication channels. Whether you keep a Whatsapp group or conduct a monthly group meeting, ensure that there are opportunities for all of you to discuss the household priorities.


  • Have a list of essential tasks and who is responsible. A good manager considers the employee’s strengths and weaknesses when assigning jobs. Review how they perform their duties, but be conscious about comparing their results. Instead, focus on their efforts and behaviors.


  • Encourage the helpers to be problem solvers. It’s normal to have conflicts once in a while and they should resolve it between themselves. But when it interferes with the work, employers should step in as the manager and try to get involved in an appropriate manner.


  • Promote fairness as much as possible. Listen to both sides and be accommodating and reasonable to their concerns.

Last updated on September 5th, 2023

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Fair Employment Agency is a nonprofit agency. We put a lot of work into producing high quality, accurate and updated information resources because when employers and domestic helpers are informed, they are empowered to make good choices. If you found this article helpful, please consider donating to support us through Fair Employment Foundation, a registered section 88 charity in Hong Kong, which builds social businesses (like us!) to make migrant recruitment fair to workers & fair to employers.

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