How to Retain a Household Employee

Finding the perfect nanny, household manager or housekeeper is almost always a challenge, and a task that most employers don’t want to repeat unless it’s absolutely necessary. In order to avoid the tedious process of sifting through resumes, scheduling in-person interviews with promising candidates, and managing background screenings, it’s best to make a concerted effort to hold on to quality employees that you already have. Reducing turnover and inspiring loyalty in your household employees can help you to not only avoid hiring replacements, but also to establish a routine in your household that isn’t disrupted by major changes every time you lose another employee.

Beware of Burnout

One of the leading culprits behind loss of household employees is sheer burnout, often caused by the insidious “job creep” that makes managing responsibilities seem more and more difficult with each passing day. When you hire a nanny, household manager or housekeeper and discuss her expected duties in order to create a work agreement, pay close attention to the duties that she’s accepting and the responsibilities that you’ve collectively agreed upon. Those are the tasks that she’s accepting responsibility for, and gradually adding extra tasks to her as time goes by can very easily cause her to become overwhelmed. Make sure that you’re maintaining the schedule and work expectations that you agreed upon in the beginning, rather than heaping more responsibilities and extended hours onto her plate. By helping to keep her hours reasonable and the amount of work she’s expected to complete at a manageable level, you can help to fend off burnout.

Respect Boundaries

When someone works in your home, cares for your children, or maintains your household for you in your absence, it can be very easy to blur boundary lines. While your nanny or household manager may be a trusted member of your family to an extent, it’s important to remember that she’s not a confidant, therapist or marriage counselor. Conversations about intensely personal issues should be avoided at all costs, as it can make the lines between “employer” and “friend” a bit too vague to properly maintain a professional relationship. If your household employees live in, it’s even more important to ensure that their boundaries are respected. A lack of privacy or feeling that her time off isn’t quite regarded as such can be a contributing factor to job dissatisfaction, which can cause your nanny or household manager to leave her post.

Consider the Working Environment

A professional household manager or private, in-home childcare provider who is in reasonably high demand isn’t likely to continue working under conditions that she feels are less than ideal, especially if her work environment is particularly strained due to marital problems or substance abuse symptoms exhibited by her employers. If you’re struggling to retain household employees and are battling through a troubled marriage or addiction, those factors could be negatively impacting the environment in which those employees work.

Keep Compensation Competitive

Nannies and household managers, especially the great ones, rarely struggle to find employment. In fact, some are even forced to gently turn down offers of greater compensation and better conditions at posts with other families on a regular basis. If the compensation package you’ve created for your nanny or domestic worker leaves much to be desired, you’ve declined to provide her with timely wage increases, or you refuse to offer her other benefits, you may eventually have some difficulty keeping her.

Maintain Realistic Expectations

When you’re paying a significant portion of your household income towards supporting the salaries and benefits packages of one or more domestic employees, it’s understandable for you to expect them to earn that compensation. However, you also have to keep in mind that they’re human, and only capable of doing so much. Attempting to live up to unrealistically high employer expectations can be very stressful for a household employee, especially if she’s not being compensated accordingly. Before you take your nanny or housekeeper to task for failing to live up to your expectations, take a moment to consider whether or not she could be reasonably expected to manage everything you’ve delegated to her. If you think that you would struggle to maintain her workload, it may be time to reevaluate your expectations.

Maintaining a good relationship with your household employees, providing fair compensation, and creating a work environment in which they can thrive will help you to significantly reduce turnover levels, or even prevent the unexpected loss of an employee altogether. Carefully considering your nanny or housekeeper’s feelings and needs and acting accordingly can stave off abandonment of posts in your house quite effectively, so make sure that you’re thinking before you confront your employees with complaints or increased responsibility levels.

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