By Step Up
Just hired a new domestic worker? If you are lucky, your worker will be equipped with training as promised by her employment agency. If you are not, you will need to impart skills as she enters your household, starting with the very basic chores.
The first barrier to effective training is language. Many times, employers have to use simple English and animated gestures to communicate with their limited or non-English-speaking workers. First, decide which is the language of instruction. Some employers need their domestic worker to get down to work immediately so it is a priority of short-term goals, and in this case, chores. But the long-term objective is to learn how to communicate more effectively with your worker.
The key is not to overwhelm your domestic worker with learning a new language and the rules of your household all at once!
Here are 4 tips to help your domestic worker get up to speed in a short time!
1. Provide a schedule.
Create a weekly timetable that is clear and consistent. For example, what time to wake up, prepare the meals and pick up the children. Recurring chores such as sweeping and mopping of floor and laundry should be scheduled at regular times, for example at 10am every morning, so it’s easy to remember. They should also be scheduled during the least chaotic times of the day, such as when the employer and family are out of the house for work and school. You can also use Google Translate to print out a version in her native language and go through with her to make sure she understands. Paste it on the fridge or kitchen wall where it’s visible.
|Print out a detailed timetable in both English and her native language.|
2. Don’t just tell, show!
Some domestic workers nod their heads and say yes even when they don’t understand your instruction. They do that for fear of being judged or scolded. The result is often disastrous if they end up doing it wrong. The next time you need your worker to do a new task, especially if it’s important, spend that extra time to show her how it’s properly done, then get her to repeat it.
3. Teacher and student.
Bear in mind the mastery of new skills is dependent on the teacher, the environment, the mental and physical condition of the student as well as the feedback from the people around her.
For your worker, the employer is the teacher. Be strict but be patient and kind. We all learn better when we have a good teacher. Be mindful when assigning this role to other members of the family. All the ‘teachers’ should be on the same page and not give out inconsistent messages. You don’t want a confused student!
The employer is the teacher. What does a teacher do to make her student learn better?
Consider your training environment - is it during a stressful time, where perhaps the kids are screaming for your attention? Allocate a suitable time, possibly during the weekend when you and your new worker are not faced with urgent chores. Both the teacher and learner will be less distracted during these times.
Mental and physical condition.
Imagine this. You have just scolded your worker 5 minutes ago because she made an error and now you need to train her to use the blender. Would she be in the right mental condition to absorb the information? Be conscious of your domestic worker’s mental state and definitely not when one is hungry or sick.
Give her regular feedback. Start off with praise, even if it’s about the little things. This builds her confidence and makes her feel good to continue to listen to what you have to say. Then comment on the things she needs to improve on.
4. Drip feed, not all at once.
The learning journey of the domestic worker starts with the basic household chores, advances to intermediate tasks like handling the weekly grocery shopping and continues with independently planning the weekly meals. Always start with tasks that are appropriate and progress to the next level depending on her speed of learning and progress.
You can also complement the face-to-face training with online videos for better results. If you are looking for how-to instructional videos related to chores and cooking, why not try Step Up? Step Up's videos are narrated in the domestic worker’s native languages. Employers just need to select the video topics suitable for their household needs and according to the experience of the domestic worker, and the worker can start learning immediately. To start, click here.