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Many expats in Singapore hire helpers to assist with household chores or to take care of their children. While having a helper can be beneficial for your family, it is important to foster a positive working relationship with your helper to ensure that she is treated with respect and dignity, and to keep a happy and healthy household environment.
Where Employers Struggle
At White Glove, we often receive phone calls from employers when the relationship is beyond repair and the family is looking for a new helper. We hear both sides of the story, from the employers and the helpers, and understand the two points of view. There are many reasons these relationships might fall apart, but one common theme we hear is miscommunication. Remember, she is joining your family, but she is also your employee. The challenge is to have a good rapport with her, yet still maintain an employer/employee relationship.
Tips to Foster a Positive Relationship
- Set clear expectations: It is important to set clear expectations from the beginning, including job responsibilities, work hours, days off, and salary. Before hiring your helper, have a frank discussion about your needs and expectations so she is not caught off guard. You should disclose any pet care or car washing needs up front, and you might want to provide a list of chores to make things clear.
- Communicate effectively: Communication is key to any relationship, including the one with your domestic worker. Make sure that you communicate clearly and effectively, and that you listen to her concerns and/or feedback. If there are any issues, try to address them in a respectful and constructive manner. Never yell at your helper. Yelling creates a stressful environment and doesn’t accomplish your goal of having a healthy relationship. If you get angry, step away and return to discuss when you have had time to process your thoughts.
- Provide a comfortable living environment: Your helper will be living in your home, so it is important to provide a comfortable living environment. Make sure she has her own space, access to basic amenities like a fan or air-conditioning, and that she is able to maintain her privacy.
- Consider a food allowance. While a lot of helpers are happy to eat what you eat, often she would rather eat food from her home country and to prepare her own meals. A food allowance will give her the choice to eat what she wants and will make her happier.
- Respect her culture and beliefs: Your domestic worker may come from a different culture or have different beliefs than you. It is important to be open-minded and willing to learn about her background. This may include giving her time to pray during the day, or letting her listen to church music while she works.
- Show appreciation: Your domestic worker works hard to take care of your home and family. Show your appreciation by thanking her for her hard work, providing her with time off, or giving her a bonus or gift on special occasions.
Fostering a positive working relationship with your migrant domestic worker is essential to ensure that she is treated with respect and dignity. By following these tips, you can create a positive and productive working relationship with your helper.