Recruiting and retaining staff in your household who are trustworthy, loyal and efficient can be truly challenging. This is not a task that you should tackle on your own. In fact, we can help with managing details of the process from recruiting, screening, interviewing and hiring your dream team.
Private service positions often demand extreme flexibility, excellent interpersonal skills. Working knowledge of every aspect of caring for a household or balancing multiple estate properties is also essential. Being “all things to all people” in the household might be required from a private service professional. Tasks include planning a formal dinner, managing multiple schedules for multiple properties, dealing with contractors, among others.
Understanding the seamless operation of a state-of-the-art high-tech home is essential for these placements. Anticipating your family’s needs and the on-going care requirements of protecting and maintaining your valuable assets is the goal. Finding these multi-faceted, talented unicorns sounds like tough work, but we know how to get your dream team for you. Managing that working relationship seems a bit more tricky, but with the right tools, it can absolutely be smooth sailing.
Once you’ve hired the right people, you’ll want to ensure expectations are clear, and everyone is happy about the arrangement. Talented private service professionals are often coveted by other potential hiring families. This industry is highly competitive and those experienced + trustworthy individuals with excellent references often have multiple offers on the table at any given time.
With the contracts signed and everyone getting adjusted to the new person in the house, now it’s time to set this new staff member up for a seamless transition into their role.
Managing Your Staff
Overzealous micro-management by the principal is the number one reason household staff members cite for leaving their positions. This is followed by excessive overtime work hours, and/or an attitude of disdain communicated from the principal. You must be satisfied with the work of your staff, but it is sometimes a fine line between checking on them and chiding them. Trust your judgment, your goal is to be fair and reasonable while expecting and encouraging a high level of performance.
Remember your staff has chosen to enter the service profession and they do want to deliver for you. This is possible by having an accurate understanding of the time it takes to accomplish the tasks you require them to complete. You can also do this by being open to hiring extra local help for special occasions. Additional part or full-time help might also be required if your day-to-day needs exceed the capacity of your current staff.
Housing Your Staff
If you are providing living quarters, ensure that they are clean prior to your new staff’s arrival. If you are employing a couple, they are unlikely to remain happy long-term in a single small bedroom. While we screen our domestic / estate couples for a high-level of compatibility and the ability to work well together, any couple needs adequate space and privacy to work at their best. Consider long-term job satisfaction when arranging staff amenities such as housing, scheduling, and benefits, and you will definitely improve your long-term staff retention.
Communicate With Your Staff
Clarify everything. Issue written instructions and/or spend the time with your new staff to communicate your specific needs, preferences (i.e., culinary likes and dislikes, wardrobe care, the preferred order of tasks), and routines prior to their assumption of duties. Be very clear about your strongest likes or dislikes. In areas not as critical to your peace of mind, allowing your staff to employ their judgment and individual talents in the completion of their tasks can help keep them engaged and dedicated to their work long-term.
If your home or estate does not have a manual of operation and procedures, consider allowing your new staff a reasonable amount of time (5 to 8 months) to create one for you. Such a guide can be an invaluable tool in the care of your residence and can aid incoming staff in their ability to provide high-quality service to you and your family. Your household manual should include information regarding your personal needs and preferences as well as those of other family members and regular guests. It should also outline routine care and functional operation of each and every component of your residence and grounds.
Scheduling Your Staff
It is still important to notify your staff of changes in schedules (both yours and theirs), routines, or special needs as soon as possible, even if domestic professionals pride themselves on their adaptability and flexible, service-oriented attitude. This is not only a courtesy that your staff members will appreciate, it while also help insure that any changes can be incorporated smoothly while maintaining a high-level of comfort and ease for you and your family.
Set Your Staff Up For Success
Ensure that the proper equipment is in place for your employees to efficiently do the work you require. Items such as vacuum cleaners can make a big difference in both results and time effectiveness. Cleaning high or oversized windows are better hired out to a vendor who has the appropriate ladders required to do the job correctly and safely.
Compensate Your Staff Generously
Household and estate managers are salaried professionals and it is very tempting to load on the hours during busy periods. Compensation is a must for anything over 50 hours per week. Salary should reflect compensation for a 40 plus hour week to be in compliance w/ U.S. labor law. End-of-the-year bonuses, 401Ks, and insurance coverage can really encourage a lasting principal/staff relationship. Your staff should be provided with at least two weeks of paid vacation annually. If you cannot afford their absence for more than 7 days, these can be split.
Remember we maintain a roster of qualified and screened applicants to fill-in on a temporary basis, if needed. Domestic service is a real career, so it must be respected as such. Paying staff members ‘under the table’ is a thing of the past. Providing full benefits and incentives is as important in this profession as it is to any other. You will be able to maintain a comfortable and gracious estate lifestyle with the help of these estate employees.
If personal loyalty, a willingness to go the ‘extra mile’ and long-term, career commitment are qualities you seek in your domestic staff, providing a competitive benefits package to the household and estate professionals you employ makes good sense.
Maintain Weekly Staff Meetings
Cultivate a productive working relationship with your domestic employees through regularly scheduled staff meetings. While you may think you are communicating sufficiently by providing them with regular instructions and feedback, remember that they also need time to share their concerns, ideas, and suggestions with you. It is important you schedule times to listen to them. Spending your time in this way can pay big dividends through increased efficiency, staff loyalty and long-term job satisfaction.
Respect Your Staff
Remember too that no one is exempt from the occasional bad day. A good working relationship between household staff and principal requires occasional sensitivity and tact on everyone’s part. Counting to ten, walking away or simply cutting a staff member a bit of slack when they are having a difficult time, can do much toward maintaining a harmonious, productive and long-term principal/staff relationship. Check if the workload and the amount of time allowed to complete expected duties is realistic. Or, have changes in your residence, family or lifestyle pushed the limits of your current staffing level? If so, it may be time to consider additional staffing.
SOURCE: Adventure Nannies