09 Jan Guideline to Estate Staffing
Guidelines To Hiring Live-In Help For Your Home or Estate.
Trustworthy, efficient and loyal help for your private home, ranch, resort or estate are to be cherished and encouraged to remain as such. It is clear that private service requires extreme flexibility on the part of the employee. There will be many long hours. The tasks will often be mundane, often Herculean. Understanding and operating a high-tech home is essential in most placements. Anticipating your needs and the needs of a beautiful property is, of course, the goal.
Our job is to provide you with files of qualified applicants for the position you wish to fill. When we say “we take you beyond the resume,” we mean it. There are many wonderful applicants willing to accept our scrutiny, all the way back to the beginning of their work career. Chemistry is everything. For that reason, once you narrow our many choices down to one or two, you should bring them in for an on-site interview. Costs of transporting these applicants and supplying them w/ housing for a night or more, are borne by you. You may only need to spend one hour w/ said applicants to verify they are the right candidates for you.
Because you want the highest caliber employee possible working within the sanctuary that is your home and because you only want to go through this hiring process once, we present the following suggestions, based on what such workers have shared with us over the years:
1. Micro-management by the employer is the number one reason why home staff quit, closely followed by excessive work hours (on a continual basis) and/or an attitude of disdain from the employer. You must be satisfied w/ the work of your employees, and it is sometimes a fine line between checking on them and chiding them. Trust your judgment as a manager to be fair and reasonable while expecting high level of performance. Your employee(s) wants to deliver! Now, let’s make sure he/she can. Be fair. Know the time it takes to accomplish the tasks you require. Be open to hiring extra local help for special occasions or even the day-to-day care, if it turns out that you are understaffed.
2. If you are providing quarters (and it is customary in this profession), ensure that the quarters are clean and in good repair prior to your new employee(s) move-in. If you need a couple (and we have many), don’t expect them to be happy LONG-TERM in a small bedroom. Couples need a bedroom and a living room, so that if one wants to sleep, the other can sit up. We want couples who like each other as well as who enjoy working together. Put any couple into cramped quarters and the like can turn to loath. The quarters should include a kitchenette.
3. Either issue written instructions or spend the time with your new employee to cover your specific needs, likes and dislikes (re: culinary/wardrobe care/order of tasks, etc.) prior to their assumption of duties. Be very clear about your pet peeves. In areas not as crucial to your peace of mind, allow your employee to show individuality as much as possible in the accomplishment of their tasks. If the home/estate does not have a manual of operation/procedures, perhaps your new employees should have a reasonable amount of time (5 to 8months) in which to create one for you. Such a manual should include all of your personal needs, likes and dislikes, as well as the functional operation of each and every part of your home and grounds.
4. Flexibility is key to this type of work, but it is important to notify your staff of changes in your (and their) schedule as soon as possible.
5. Insure that the proper equipment is in place for your employee to efficiently do the work required. Example—a top of the line vacuum cleaner— ideally, one for each living level unless elevator in place. Windows that are high and wide should probably be hired out to a vendor who has the appropriate ladders/scaffolds.
6. House and estate managers are salaried and it can be very tempting to heap on the hours without giving additional pay or compensatory time off when things quiet down. Anything over 50 hours per week should be acknowledged and compensated with either a bonus or extra time off when events permit. You may need 70 plus hours for weeks, but acknowledge that lower work hours will be granted when your schedule permits. The salary you pay should reflect compensation for a 40 plus hour week to be in compliance w/ U.S. labor law. End of the year bonuses/401Ks and insurance coverage are real guarantees of a lasting employer/employee
relationship. Yearly paid vacation (at your convenience) should allow for two weeks of rest for your employees split, if you cannot afford their absence for more than 7 days. We always have temp employees ready to fill in.
7. Schedule regular staff meetings with your home/estate/ranch employees. You may think you are communicating by giving them regular instructions but they also need a time to share with YOU their concerns, ideas, and suggestions. It is important you schedule times to listen to them.
8. Use of facilities within a large home–the home you live in and the home your new employees care for, should not be off limits for a quick trip to the bathroom while they are working. We have seen good working relationships go south because the employers forbid, even in their absence, such use. A service area should also be provided for your employees to take a break and eat their lunch or dinner. They sometimes are working long hours and need to be able to sit and rest their feet. We cannot stress enough that if you trust them to be in your inner sanctuary, you trust them to use their own good judgment. In fact, they cannot do their job well otherwise. These are professionals that know not to over step their boundaries. However, it is important that employers provide for and be aware of the simple human needs of their employees.
9. Bad days happen to all of us. Count to 10, walk away, call us if you must, but cut your employee some slack if he/she is a bit “off. Observe and be sensitive to the pressures they may be feeling. Are you being realistic about the job load and the amount of time required to accomplish the tasks required by your home or estate needs? Do you need to add staffing?
10. This is a REAL career and the employer needs to treat it as such. Paying under the table is a thing of the past. Providing full benefits or the incentive to achieve such is important in this profession, as your employees will probably see you spend more in one afternoon than they earn in an entire year. If you want the loyalty and “extra mile” required by your full life style, we urge you to provide a complete package to the persons who facilitate the ease of home life for you. We urge you to use the quarterly evaluation form provided by Heartland so that your employees will know where they succeed and where they need to improve.