Tips on managing domestic helper (maid) co-workers in the same household
Published on 21 Nov 2023, last updated on 2 Feb 2024
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Hiring more than 1 domestic worker in your household can be tricky. While you will have more hands on deck for assistance, your management approach becomes significantly more important; depending on how many workers you employ, you may be required to manage your workers at home with the same if not more level of thoughtfulness you would practise while managing a team in an office setting.
- Do a team onboarding when every additional worker joins the household e.g: “It’s so great to welcome XXX”. “We are a household of X, X, X.”
- Important to share the objectives of the household, set the house rules, and inspire confidence in your management e.g: “We’re hiring a team of workers because XXX, and we value your contribution to our household, both as individuals and as a team.”
- Run an ice-breaker to help co-workers get to know one another (can be light and fun e.g: Everyone in the circle goes around to share: 1. Favourite food, 2. Motivation to work abroad, 3.What they love the most about Philippines
- Explain the context behind the house rules to get understanding/buy-in e.g: “The reason it’s important to use headphones after 10 PM is so that other household members can rest well. Sleep is really important for your wellbeing”
- Permit workers to ask questions for understanding
- Clearly explain who does what in the household to avoid any confusion and to align expectations e.g.:“In general, XXX will be in charge of this. XXX will be handling this.”
- If there are any changes, be sure to inform all workers during a sit-down check-in (see below) e.g.: “Next month however, we will be going on holiday, so during that time, there may be changes to XXX.”
- When communicating expectations, try your best to do so to both workers at the same time.
- Avoid giving different information to different workers, unless relevant and appropriate to do so
- If there is miscommunication/conflict between both workers, set aside time to sit with both of them. e.g: “It’s come to my attention that there’s been a disagreement between you two. I’d like to try to resolve it with you. It’s really important that you work as a team.”
- Do not complain/speak poorly about one worker to the other and vice versa
- Try to highlight each worker’s strengths to one another
- Remember that workers will always communicate and trust can be adversely impacted if they learn that either one is being spoken poorly about behind their back
- As much as possible, offer the same benefits to all workers.
- If there are differences, be sure to be transparent and communicate the rationale e.g: “XXX has been working for us for X amount of years. When she started, she also began with a salary of XXX. After good performance for XX years, she gradually received a raise in salary.”
- Existing workers may always talk about household history
- To control the narrative, you should air out “skeletons in the closet” and any “elephants in the room” to the new worker, in the presence of the old worker
- Keep things high-level and don’t go into details, and do not also speak bitterly of past workers e.g.: “Unfortunately, in our hiring history, we have had a few runaways, including our last worker, who didn’t understand the dangers of illegal work in Malaysia and terminating illegally.”
- Address any unresolved misunderstanding with existing workers so they are incentivised to portray your management in a productive and positive light to the new worker(s)
- Present the opportunity to existing workers to model positive culture e.g.: “Before XXX arrives, is there anything that you want to share so we can smoothen XXX’s arrival?” “What can we do to help you feel comfortable/prepared with XXX’s arrival? “So far, we really value XXX about you. We hope that when XXX arrives, you can set a positive welcoming tone for her. What are your thoughts on this?”
- Have regular (weekly to start with/monthly later on) team meetings/check-ins to do a temperature check
- Use the meetings to collectively address workers and share/request for any feedback e.g.: “I understand that we are down by one worker at the moment and it may seem a bit chaotic. How are people coping and are there any ideas you may have to improve things?
- Always ensure to use a professional tone
- Again, always explain your rationale and check for genuine buy-in and understanding
- If/when you make a mistake (Which happens, nobody's perfect!), try your best to address it collectively e.g.: “I’m sorry that I shouted earlier. It has been a stressful time for me at work. I appreciate your understanding.”
- This is important to avoid room for gossip/negative talk/bad morale to spread