How to Retain Household Staff: Tips for Employee Longevity
Once you've found the right person for your home, whether it's a nanny, chef, or personal assistant, you hope they'll stay with your family for years to come. You can't prepare for everything the future holds but there are certain measures you can take to encourage longevity in your employees. Long-term employees, especially in the domestic setting, make life easier for everyone, including your family, other staff, and vendors. A household with high turnover requires more time, money, and effort from the principal and key staff members than one with efficient long-term staff. This week, we've compiled some of our top recommendations to improve staff satisfaction and increase the chances of a long-term placement.
Set Staff Up For Success
Give staff the best chance for long-term success by making sure you have strong onboarding and training measures in place. Provide a handbook or summary of expectations when appropriate; setting clear expectations from the start can avoid problems down the line. Sometimes, training with the team member they're replacing can be helpful if time and circumstances allow. If the job requires speciality tools or technology, make sure those are up to date and in good order or open a line of communication for the staff member to let you know if not. Listen to suggestions from staff regarding maintenance or upgrades for tools they use regularly to do their job. Make sure the new team member knows who to go to with questions or concerns as they arise. If you aren't sure if your house is set up properly, BAHS does offer home staffing assessments to assist with this.
Pay a Fair Market-Rate Wage
It is critical to ensure that you're paying a fair wage to all employees. If you aren't sure what the market rate is in your area, British American can help guide you. Make sure that you're complying with overtime laws and guaranteeing a weekly number of hours for your staff. Employees desire consistency in terms of pay; in most circumstances, you should pay employees for an agreed minimum number of hours worked even when you're out of town and don't need as many hours. Finally, make sure that all staff have a sustainable schedule; this should include reasonable daily hours and two consecutive days off for regular schedules (of course rotational schedules will be handled differently.) Staff need time to rest and recharge to avoid burnout. If there are times of the year that require a more intense effort (for example, summer in the Hamptons or the holiday season), consider offering a few extra paid days off afterwards to reset before returning to work.
Offer Benefits That Improve Their Life
Consider what other benefits your family can offer staff to make them feel appreciated and to make the job more appealing. Benefits like health insurance and a monthly metro card can go a long way towards making staff feel taken care of. Small gestures, like offering meals and a paid cab ride home after working late, are also helpful. In today's environment, many families choose to offer unlimited Covid-19 testing or a subscription to a boutique medical concierge service, like Sollis Health.
Give Words of Affirmation
Most staff want feedback on how they are doing and praise for a job well done. A simple "good job" or "thank you" can greatly increase job satisfaction. Reiterate to staff every once in a while that they are integral to the family and that you recognize their contributions. Gestures like remembering a staff member's birthday with a card or small gift are wonderful; allowing staff to leave early when possible before a holiday sends the message that you appreciate their time and understand they have a life outside of work.
Communicate Clearly and Often
Communication is key. Life can change quickly and we need to be able to count on our staff as it does. However, you'll want to make sure you do so in a way that respects their time and their job description. For example, if the workload suddenly increases during the holiday season, have a conversation with your employee to find out if the extra hours are manageable for them or if you need to bring in temporary support. If the job description is going to change long-term - for example if you adopt a new pet or acquire a second home - talk about these upcoming changes with the employee and review any new expectations. It's always best to communicate with an employee rather than assume they are comfortable taking on new tasks. Depending on the circumstances, an increase in wages may be appropriate - for example when a nanny takes on caring for an additional child, a raise is usually offered. Schedule weekly or monthly check-ins with staff to give feedback and to listen to their concerns.
Support Professional Development
Show your staff you care by offering a stipend for professional development, including classes and workshops to improve their job skills. Allocate a set number of days or hours they can use (paid) to attend these types of courses.
Respect Time Off
When an employee has requested time off and is away from your home, try your best to respect that time off. Personal assistants and house managers are often fundamental to running the home, but they should have a plan in place for when they are out of office. Of course, it may be appropriate to contact them in an emergency or with a quick question but remember, they'll be better and more committed when they're on the job if they can truly take a break when they're off.
A simple handwritten thank you card, birthday card, or holiday greeting shows your employee that you care. We love Crane & Co.'s classic and quality engraved Thank You Cards, as well as Rifle Paper's playful and personalized notecards.
Give a Bonus or Holiday Gift
Cash is always an appreciated and appropriate year-end gift. Gift cards are another welcome option. Gift hampers full of sweet treats or charcuterie can make lovely gifts, as well (click here for one of our favorites). You may also choose to offer extra paid days off around the holidays if they suit your schedule. For example, offering a day or two after a holiday to allow for travel back and rest is usually appreciated by employees who may travel to see family. Some employers may choose to offer a round-trip ticket home if the staff member is from another area or country. For some jobs, this isn't realistic - they may require extra hours and time worked during the holidays; in these instances, it may be possible to offer future time off - a few days in the new year, for example. Consider your situation and your employee's priorities to come up with perks that makes sense for everyone.
The holiday season and the summer season can be busy times in homes; if you have many catered events, parties, extensive travel, or late nights during select months, offer support to your staff by doing frequent check-ins. Do they need an extra set of hands to clean up after big parties? Can you offer a later start-time after a busy and late evening event? Can you have the weekend nanny come in for a weekday to help with coverage? If your staff member has been traveling with your family non-stop, can you offer an evening off to spend as they wish? Each family's needs are different but offering support or downtime shows your staff you are thankful for the help and considerate of their needs, as well.