Domestic helpers in Hong Kong face a number of problems with respect to the abuse and discrimination they suffer from the hands of their employers. It is essential, hence, that they are appreciated for work and treated with good self esteem, for maximum retention.
Even the helpers do not work when distrust and harassment come into the picture. Foreign domestic helpers are expected to perform different tasks in households in Hong Kong. But they face severe problems with respect to their own ignorance when employers exploit them for long work hours.
It is advisable for employers to employ different tactics to retain domestic helpers and keep them being the support for their families for a longer period of time. Their value is very much cherished compared to other professions by the employers but not many laud the efforts.
Check out the following tips to handle domestic helper problems:
1. Treat domestic helpers with Respect when they Feel Ignored
One should treat domestic helpers with respect and kindness and encourage the household too, to do the same. It is important for treating them respectfully till the time at least they work for the house and stop ignoring them as if they are just workers and not human beings. By using kind words and appreciating their good work, one can show that they value their efforts. Wishing them for their birthday and gifting them sometimes are gestures to show their importance in your lives. Treat them as human beings and not a machine by defining their work hours too and giving them ample time to rest.
2. Shower incentives and surprises when they feel like leaving from job
Hong Kong government does not force employers to reward their helpers or offer incentives. But domestic helpers need to be rewarded sometimes for their work. This generosity will help you retain the helpers, and would also encourage them to push for more efforts.
Some helpers find a problem with the spaces they are allocated in the residence. Make sure that they find living with you comfortable to some extent, since they have to slog throughout the day for the family. They need to be taken care of with some surprises and incentives if possible:
- Annual bonus (one month pay for satisfactory performance any time during the year)
- Some gadget or beauty product they need
- A minor increase in salary based on annual performance
- Paid holidays more than what is specified in the contract
- Christmas gifts and allowance to spend time with their family.
Retaining good helpers is difficult but it is important that they do not feel pressurized with the daily chores. Balance the chores so that they do not have to attend to all the chores every day. For example, give them half a day of freedom when you and your family are not around. Maids ease the load of responsibility related to children but for retaining them, show that you value their work.
Here are some ideas to reward helpers to encourage harmonious relationship with your family:
- A thank you card
- Gift them chocolates or cosmetics
- Teach the helpers to talk to their relatives online
- Gift them unused gadgets
- Gift them something they love, a guitar if they love music or buy tickets to a movie if they are fond of movies
3. Help them with their new surroundings
Some helpers find it difficult to adjust to the new surroundings. Giving them time to adjust is important since they feel comfortable working in an environment that is supportive of their abilities and efforts.
It is also helpful if you could guide them about the habits of each of the family members, the schedule for children and the elders, as well as the storage and accessories in the home. By guiding them with patience, domestic helpers would not find themselves out of place and will feel more confident in their own abilities to deliver the tasks. Encourage each of the family members to give the space and time to adjust to new tasks so that helpers do not feel bound in the new environment.
Edouard Muller is a French entrepreneur working in the Hive Sai Kung. He is the founder of HelperPlace – a leading platform to help you to hire a helper in Hong Kong.