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Finding staff

There are many ways to find staff; word of mouth, advertising or working through a reputable agency.

Training new employees

As in a corporate environment, one needs to spend time with the employee explaining the policies and procedures of the home as well as conveying the details of the job description. There will always be a learning curve. If one doesn't share what one wants, and how one wants to see things, the employee cannot execute appropriately. Sometimes it is assumed that since the employee is experienced in a private residence that they will know what to do; not true. What they do know is how to run the last home they were in and how to be of service to their last employer; but your desires are unique to you and this needs to be articulated. Training takes time, time that sometimes is not available, but it is the way to create a win-win situation and retain an employee long term.

Retaining staff

Corporate policies have transitioned into private homes these days; annual reviews, bonus structures, raises and benefits as well as kind words of appreciation. Since this is the service industry many times the employee will not be able to express to their employer their needs. It is up to the employer or their management team to set up HR systems to take care of their staff. By being respectful of the employee's time, efforts and energy the payoff will come back 100 fold with a faithful, happy and long term employee.

Formal training versus long term hands on experience

Historically, the service industry has been one that utilized the "work up from the bottom" style of training. There is nothing better than long term experience but it can be enhanced by training. Lately though there has been an influx of new wealth and there is a shortage of qualified staff. Private one-on-one training from an expert in the field or even a vocational program could help refine what might be missing. Training is important, but no one can train for attitude.

Job descriptions and service expectations

These are excellent ways to help ease one's new employee as well as existing staff into their jobs. Yes, there are going to be changes in the lives and needs of the household, but initial guidelines are essential. As standards elevate and evolve, so will the position descriptions.

Systems designed for your household needs

The larger the home the more complicated it is to run. To assist one in capturing these details household manuals have been created. This is now evolving into computer software in which the needs of the home / grounds / family are integrated into a complex but simple program that is accessible from anywhere.

Salary and employee compensation packages

Salaries depend on location, experience and job details. Benefit packages range from solely health insurance to health, dental, vision, retirement, long and short term disability, yearly bonuses and raises as well as incentive plans. To obtain the latest salary reports for your geographical area you might want to call local or national placement agencies and ask for their input. They are always happy to assist.

Determining the appropriate staff to effectively run a household

This depends on the size of the home / estate, the number of family members and level of service standards desired. To thoroughly clean a home, the industry standard is 5,000 square feet per 40 hour week for one housekeeper. If there is cooking, laundry for more than two people, ironing of sheets and serving, another housekeeper may be necessary. Vendor management, setting and serving of table and other projects might stipulate the hiring of a household manager, personal assistant or estate manager. Discussions with an expert in household assessments or a staffing agency will help in clarifying one's staffing requirements.

Conflict resolution in a household

This is a very important part of employee retention and it is imperative that all conflicts are addressed. One can utilize the skills of a coach or simply sit down with each employee and obtain a clear picture of what has occurred. Successful conflict resolution transpires by listening to and providing options for all parties concerned.

Professionally run versus formally run households

These terms seem to be different but technically they are the same. "Professional" is preferred by the high tech employers or business employers and "formal" is preferred by the old world / old guard homes. Each characterizes efficiency, etiquette, protocol, decorum and appropriate communication.


Transitioning into the private service

It is best to always do a lot of research before changing careers. Reading up on the internet, purchasing books on the subject and meeting as many people as possible that already work in the field will help you make an educated decision. To obtain a position, word of mouth can be most effective but there are also vocational schools that specialize in training and placing newcomers. Before moving into the private service industry, you need to make the proper assessment if service in the private sector is right for you.

Choosing the right household for you

Know thyself. It is important to know what type of environment you would be most productive and comfortable in: single staff member, multiple staff, many layers of management, or direct report to the principal. Visualize working for the Queen of England or Mary Smith down the street; only you will know if you are a fit or a match for formal, informal, professional, report driven or hands-on households.

Working with an agency

There are many different types and styles of agencies; boutique firms, all purpose firms, national firms, and local firms, firms specializing in management level employees or just nannies and housekeepers. One must do their research to find the best fit. It is also imperative to have a well written, updated resume along with letters of recommendation, a list of references relating to your past employment with phone numbers and a recent professional picture. Agencies are hired by the client to market their positions, but without good candidates, those jobs cannot be filled. This is a partnership; help us help you.

Maintaining boundaries

>Keep it professional but warm, it is a home and not an office. There is an old adage: "You are in the house, not of the house". There are many components to maintaining boundaries in a private home. Remembering that there is a paycheck between you is one and not getting involved no matter how hard you might want to will help. The movie, "Remains of the Day" might be an extreme example but it has essential elements on boundaries. The other boundary you need to keep is not being taken advantage of by the needs of the home. Make sure you take your days off, or ask for overtime pay if you are working additional hours.

Compensation package expectations

Salaries depend on many things; experience, job duties and complexities of the work. Most homes pay health insurance but many times they offer dental, vision, retirement packages, disability insurance and bonuses. If you are the manager, setting these benefits up for the staff will help retain your team longer, if they are in place, don't hesitate to do research on each benefit to make sure you are getting the best product for the money for your employer as well as the staff. If you are not aware of what different geographic areas offer employees, ask one of the national placement agencies for their most recent information.


Most jobs need their employees to multi-task. Everyone will have a different way of mastering the intricate details, but most important is making sure they are completed correctly and in a timely manner. Generating a task list and compiling a Daily Log for your employer will not only create efficiency, but justify your position.

Dealing with challenges

Every job is challenging; it is how you cope with the challenge that makes you successful.

Professional versus formal

These terms seem to be different but technically they are the same. "Professional" is preferred by the high tech employers or business employers and "formal" is preferred by the old world / old guard homes. Each characterizes efficiency, etiquette, protocol, decorum and appropriate communication.

Employment retention and progression

Longevity is an attribute that is highly valued by potential employers and is imperative in the private service industry. Take the time to choose your next job wisely and don't overlook a position that might appear to be a little "beneath" you. Another way to advance in the profession would be continuing education. Whether you are a constant reader of new literature for the domestic field, or you enjoy correspondence courses or one-on-one learning, you can bring this knowledge into your present or future positions. You never really know where the best opportunity lies; sometimes a situation can be created for you when personalities match and skill sets are prized.

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