Independent Workers vs. Staffing Agency
You can hire an independent housekeeper yourself or hire one through an agency. There are pros and cons to both. A benefit to hiring through an agency is that they do the screening to ensure that a background check comes up clean. The agency will also make sure the person they send has the skills and temperament to perform the job as promised. However, if you have the time to search and interview candidates, you can save some money.
No matter which way you go, make sure that the person you hire is licensed, insured, and bonded. Being bonded assures that if the housekeeper breaks or damages something in your home or if the housekeeper gets hurt while on the job you will be covered.
Find a Referral
A good way to start looking for a great housekeeper is to ask your family and friends if they have a company or person that they use. One of the great things about using an agency is that they have multiple people who might work out well for your needs.
If you hire an good agency, they take care of this. But if you are hiring an independent housekeeper take some time to come up good questions, and make sure that you’re thorough with the interview. Ask questions about what they enjoy about their work. Why did they choose housekeeping as a line of work? Most important, check references, work history, and criminal history.
Decide on a flat fee or an hourly fee
If you hire through an agency you will get a firm rate that will cover everything from wages to insurances. Most agencies offer their staff people on an hourly rate. However for live-in housekeepers they may offer a salary option. But if you are hiring yourself, one of the things that you should decide is if you want to pay by the hour or pay a flat fee. If you pay by the hour, a lot of people worry that a housekeeper will stretch out jobs to take more time. However, paying a flat rate fee might mean the housekeeper rushes through their work. Discuss the options with your chosen housekeeper.
Decide on Tasks
Certain house-cleaning tasks are standard, such as sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the showers and toilets. However, you might have to negotiate any additional tasks, such as laundry or dishes, to be done regularly. Sometimes, you can also request to add duties a couple of times per year, such as cleaning the fridge or ovens. This is where it hiring an agency can make it easier. A good staffing agency will discuss what tasks you want done and recommend the right person based on your needs and budget.
A housekeeper’s insurance might limit certain duties; for example, house cleaners aren’t often allowed to clean the exterior of windows. Any tasks that require climbing on ladders to great heights, like cleaning chandeliers or the tops of cabinets might be denied, too. Again, this is an area where a staffing agency can help.
If you are considering hiring a housekeeper to free yourself up during the busy holiday season or to just keep everything perfect for your guests, give us a call.
Whether you have a full time or part-time housekeeper, some simple guidelines can help you get the most out of the person who is caring for your home.
Discussing expectations when you initially hire someone is the easiest way to pave the road for a smooth employer/employee relationship. However, even if someone has been working for you for many years, it is never too late to have a conversation with your employee.
Being open and upfront with topics such as job description, vacation time, and rules inside the home can help alleviate confusion and frustration.
It is important to decide what you hope your housekeeper will accomplish in the hours they spend caring for your home. Be clear about what you want to be completed each week and understand that your vision needs to be realistic for the number of hours they work for you. If you only have someone coming in once or twice a week for a limited amount of time, getting a deep clean throughout the house can be challenging if they need to spend the first few hours searching for the dirt underneath the clutter. A quick pickup of items before they arrive will allow easier access to the floors and countertops so they may be properly scrubbed, dusted and vacuumed.
To remove guesswork on both sides, come up with a list of the days off your employee will be given. Which holidays do they get, will they have a set amount of paid sick or snow days, or do you expect them to make up the work they have missed? Do you want your housekeeper to take their vacation time when you are away, or would you like them to come to work and do special projects while the house is empty so they have extra time and space to take everything out of the cabinets or reorganize messy closets? Remember to give your employee as much notice as possible about when they should take their vacation so they can also plan for their much earned time off.
In today’s world, it seems like many of us are on our phones more often than we are not. You have to decide what policy you want to implement in your home. Many families choose not to allow any electronics during work hours. This is perfectly acceptable, but should be discussed during the interview process or if they are already working for you, take a moment to sit down and explain what is expected in your household. You may want to consider allowing phone time during lunch breaks if it won’t disturb you. Again, each situation is different; you just need to clearly relay the guidelines you wish to be followed. On a personal note, in addition to having a housekeeper I also employ a laundress. One day I went downstairs into the laundry room and had a moment of clarity. I realized that the lady who does my laundry was standing in silence in a small room for hours on end folding, washing, and ironing our clothes. It occurred to me that there was no reason why she could not have music playing or talk on her phone while she was working, so long as both of her hands were free to properly do their job and I couldn’t hear anything from upstairs. Now, every once in a while when I walk by the laundry room, I see her happily singing or swaying to the music. This small bit of daily entertainment has made her a better worker and a happier employee.
I think it is important to understand that we are all human. We all have good days and bad days. Not every day is going to be perfect, but if your employee knows what is expected of them and you treat them with kindness and respect they will always try to do their best for you. Open communication is the key to a positive employer/employee relationship.