Tips for employers on communicating clear instructions to domestic helpers

Open, regular and honest communication is key in order to achieve a healthy and long-lasting working relationship.  But communication can be difficult, especially when there are both language barriers and cultural differences involved. Below we provide some practical steps for employers on successful communication when providing instructions to domestic helpers.

Consider abilities and preferences

When providing instructions, consider whether the domestic helper is able to work independently or if they may work more effectively with detailed instructions. Take into account whether the helper prefers more autonomy and flexibility when carrying out her work.

Understand cultural differences

When provided with instructions, most domestic helpers will not feel comfortable asking their employer to repeat an instruction or provide additional information. This is an important cultural difference to take into account when communicating with the helper. As an employer you will need to get creative in order to find less direct ways to ask for and receive feedback from the helper. Make sure to build trust by encouraging questions and reacting positively to questions.

Double-check information

When providing daily instructions, ask the domestic helper to repeat them to make sure they understand the information provided. This might feel strange at first, but will help avoid misunderstandings when done in a constructive manner.

Provide clear expectations

When giving the domestic helper a new task, articulate clearly your expectations on when the task needs to be completed and how this should be done.

Write down information

When giving new instructions, try to provide these in writing in the form of post-its, check-lists, schedules, or other written resources in order to minimise language barriers and avoid misunderstandings.

Demonstrate tasks

When asking the domestic helper to perform a new and unfamiliar task, make sure to demonstrate the way that you want the task to be performed. Remember that cultural differences may be at play even for tasks that you may consider to be basic.

Have patience

When carrying out new tasks, don’t expect the domestic helper to get it perfectly right on the first try. If the helper fails to meet your expectations, patiently explain the issue, make sure that they understand the instructions, and give the helper a chance to resolve it.

If you found this article helpful, please consider donating today.

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.

Donate now