How to manage expectations as an employer of a domestic helper?

How can employers manage expectations before hiring a domestic helper?

There are often multiple duties under the domestic helper role. These may include duties as varied as cook, caregiver, babysitter, housekeeper, pet carer, tutor, gardener, etc. As an employer, it is important to think through how many of those roles the domestic helper is expected to be taking on before starting the hiring process. This will allow the employer to manage both their own, as well as the helper’s and other family members’ expectations.

Define needs and priorities

Employers are recommended to spend some time in identifying and clearly articulating priorities. This includes thinking through family needs and prioritising these in order to define the tasks the helper is expected to take on. Being clear about their needs and priorities will put employers in a stronger position to succeed as a manager.

Keep in mind the legal scope of duties

It is important for employers to keep job role expectations within the bounds of the Standard Employment Contract and the responsibilities and limitations stated in it. As an example, it is important to understand what the permitted work activities are under a domestic work visa.

Understand family member expectations

Employers are encouraged to have a family discussion around expectations on both the domestic helper’s role as well as the responsibilities of different family members. It is key for everyone in the family to be on the same page in order to ensure a healthy working environment. It is equally important that all family members understand who will be the primary manager taking care of the day to day management of the domestic helper.

Communicate expectations clearly

Employers need to ensure that they communicate their expectations to the domestic helper during the interview process as clearly as possible. It is important to set clear expectations about role duties and responsibilities upfront in order to avoid surprises down the road.

Understand the helper’s  expectations

Employers should also make sure to get to know the domestic helper’s expectations, as well as their capabilities, experience, and preferences. It is important to do this during the interview process in order to ensure that the helper’s role expectations are aligned with the job role that the employer is hiring for.

How can employers work on expectation management after hiring a domestic helper?

While it is very important to set realistic expectations during the hiring process, the real work actually begins once the hiring process is completed.

Remember the importance of managing

A common mistake among employers of domestic helpers is to forget the importance of their role as a manager. The helper meeting an employer’s expectations is very much dependent on the employer’s active management. For this reason, it is important that employers spend some time clearly articulating their expectations to the helper as well as providing continuous feedback on results.

Expect cultural differences

Employers need to keep in mind that domestic helpers often come from different cultural backgrounds. This means that an employer’s understanding of certain things might be different from the helper’s. This also means that the concept of ‘common sense’ is, in fact, not common. Instead, employers need to see common sense as a reflection of a helper’s individual upbringing and experience.

Expect a transition period

Even an experienced domestic helper will need time to learn new skills and adjust to a new family’s preferences and needs. In addition to this, both the employer and other family members will also need some time to adjust to this new situation. 

Be prepared to adjust expectations

Employers may find that adjustments are needed as time goes on in order to manage performance, improve job satisfaction, and adapt to changing household needs. The key to this process is maintaining continuous and constructive communication with the helper while being open to finding new ways of working together.

Last updated on June 29th, 2023