By Dr. Jorge De Ramos
A client called at the Arrow office one morning, “ I want to find a helper that is perfect match for my family, can your company deliver that for me?”
I was taken aback at the implications of this question. First, is there such a thing as a “perfect match”? And secondly, if such a thing exists, does Arrow have the ability of the company to deliver the “perfect match”?
We tend to think that looking for a helper is like shopping for a new pair of trousers. We move round to different stores; look at the pants worn by the perfectly shaped mannequins and then choose a handful of pairs based on our size to take to the fitting room, hoping to find one that will make our body look like the mannequins.’
The main difference between helpers and trousers is this: trousers don’t change to fit your body, while helpers adjust to fit into your home.
I do not mean that ALL helpers can successfully adapt to your home. There are those who are not suitable to work as domestic helpers in Hong Kong. There are those who are not physically able to do the job. Other would not have sufficient command of the English language in order to communicate across the linguistic divide. Others may have bad records in society that should raise red flags for a job that requires so much trustworthiness. On the more subtle side, there are those who do not have the emotional resilience to bear the loneliness of working away from home. Others may have an attitude that refuses to adjust to a new work environment albeit this is harder to discern. This is one important task that Arrow does for you: we filter out the obvious misfits.
How can you find a helper that can work well in your household? Here are a few guidelines:
1. Have a clear purpose in hiring a helper. One common reason people hire a helper is to release some members of the household to engage in income generating activities. After the kids have grown to school age, a spouse may want to go back to work; or the family may need someone to watch over an aging parent while the sibling goes to work.
2. Define what areas you need your helper to focus on. This will help you find what strengths you are looking for in an applicant. For example, you are expecting a baby but you desire to take care of the baby as a full time mom. You foresee that you will not be able to attend to the household chores even though you are staying at home. Look for someone whose strength is in household chores and who has a disposition for and is teachable in baby care. You may not be able to find someone who perfectly matches your wish list, but you will be able to hire someone who is strong in the areas you need most.
A clear definition of the task of the helper will also help your helper stay longer. If you aren’t clear in your job description and expectations before hiring a helper, you may end up with someone who is weak in the areas you most need. They won’t be able to perform up to your standards, and both you and your helper will feel frustrated.
3. Look at the applicants experience and score box. At arrowes.hk you can find helper bios that gives you a background on the work experience and a score card with our trainer’s assessment on the various areas of the applicants’ skill set. With these tools you can make a short list of helpers to interview.
4. Validate the information you gathered through the interview. During the interview, you will gain more understanding of the background of the applicant. It is also during these interviews that you can allow your intuition to take part in making the judgment.
Now how can we help our helpers “fit” into our household? Here are some suggestions.
1. Be Kind. Most helpers arrive with some feeling of apprehension, about having an “unkind” employer. During our post-arrival orientation we help them talk about and face this fear, but you can help them overcome this by giving them a warm and assuring welcome.
2. Communicate well. Give them feedback about their work. Be generous with praise especially with the task that is done well. Their first month is engaged in “calibrating” to your domestic standards of household work. Be sure to let them know how you want the work is done.
3. Orient them. Be sure to give them sufficient orientation to their work especially the ones that are related to their main areas that you require of them. Orient them also on how to respond to emergencies, what numbers to call or where to go for help. Show them how they can access to their personal needs, like their bedspace, access to food when they are hungry and when to use their phones.
4. Give them a proper day off. The Bible teaches that the seventh day will be a day of rest. This is meant to be a time when people could re-create themselves in order to grow as a person. Oftentimes, helper use their days off to communicate with family back home, to send money, meet with friends, attend seminars, worship and just simply rest. Give them sufficien time for themselves.
We encourage our Arrow ladies to take part in the activities of Jubilee International Filipino Fellowship during their days off. In our times together at Jubilee, we encourage one another and learn how to live according to the values taught in the Bible.
5. Encourage your helper to grow as a person. Becoming part of your household and adjusting to life in Hong Kong is a big step of growth. Personal growth should go farther than simple adjustment to HK. Allow them time to rest, especially if they have finished the days work. Give them personal time to read and learn new things for themselves. We and our Philippine agency partner gave these helpers a Bible, a book, Helper’s Helper, full of tips on working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong and a subscription to Our Daily Bread. We encourage them to read at least thirty minutes everyday to expand their minds. You may also wish to loan them a book or magazine article that you have found inspiring, but if they don’t have any personal time or energy to read, then it won’t do much good.
When it comes to hiring a helper there is no perfect match, because there are no perfect employers and no perfect helpers. Instead we should have a goal to find a person who fits our needs and criteria well, and then, after they arrive, build a good relationship where there is continuous growth and mutual encouragement.
We welcome you to leave comments below. We would love to hear your feedback, and your best ideas for getting the most out of your employees.
Dr. Jorge De Ramos