Happy helper, happy home

How can you be a good employer while making sure your maid does her job well? 

OUR EXPERTS:

Edmund Pooh, managing director of Universal Employment Agency
Daniel Koh, psychologist from Insights Mind Centre
Ho Shee Wai, psychologist, and director of The Counselling Place


Helper Hitch #1

She has difficulty settling into your household and can't get along with some family members. Your helper may be having trouble assimilating into a new culture.

So make sure her basic needs are met - that she has a clean and comfortable room, and enough food, since she may not be used to the kind of food your family eats.

She may also be missing her loved ones back home, so if you sense that she feels unsettled, have a chat with her - assure her that you care about her and that she's part of the family.

Remind her that her sacrifices are worth it, and let her speak to her immediate family regularly so she feels connected to them. Getting along with everyone at home may be trickier.

With different personalities and expectations, it's not unusual for tensions to arise.

Get your helper's perspective on the situation, then suggest ways to deal with it, either by getting her to adjust her attitude or to understand what others in the family are like. Next, have a talk with the family member who's not getting along with your helper.

Emphasise the importance of harmony and compromise since you're all living under the same roof.

Helper Hitch #2

She spends too much time on her chores and doesn't work effectively.

This could be due to differing expectations: your maid may think she's doing her best, but you think otherwise because you can do it faster or your last helper was more productive.

You shouldn't compare your current helper to your previous one - it will only breed resentment and cause her to feel inadequate. Instead, go through her daily routine with her and find out how she does her chores.

Tell her how she can do things more efficiently. Never give her more than she can do.

Start with a few simple tasks and build them up when you're confident that she can manage.

Don't forget to praise her when she's done something well. This will increase her confidence, and in turn, enhance her work performance.

Helper Hitch #3

Your helper looks after your children and your elderly parents, on top of doing the household chores.

She may take her frustration out on the kids or your folks, or not make them a priority.

If she has been slack in taking care of the kids or helping your parents at home, understand that her behaviour is likely due to the frustration she feels about her daily routine - she might be overwhelmed and stressed.

Talk to her and see where you can make things more manageable for her. If she takes it out on your family verbally or physically, bring in the agency to help resolve the issue. Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated.

If the problem can't be resolved and she returns to her old ways, consider getting a new helper.

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