Connection with your domestic worker: Establishing human connection is one of the most overlooked yet critical human needs, especially in this “tech” era in which we are living. With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to put this need on the back burner. Yet, creating healthy bonds in our lives both at home and at work is good for our overall health and mental well-being and also fosters peace of mind.
Countless programmes provide corporate training on promoting human connections in the workplace as they recognise its importance in business success. The same applies to the people that work for you at home—housekeepers, nannies, gardeners, or security. Developing a relationship with them will give them a sense of belonging and unity, which will improve their productivity and attitude at work.
Here are five approaches we can take to help us connect better with our domestic workers.
1. Be open
Maintaining open communication lines is key to developing a thriving working environment. Where there is no openness, suspicion, and tension may breed between you and your domestic workers because each party doesn’t know what to expect from the other. Unmet expectations will eventually impact the quality of work done.
Establish routines that will keep communication flowing; plan to have lunch or a cup of tea together once a week where you get to catch up on their work and be sure to give compliments for work delivered well at this point.
Celebrating special occasions like birthdays will make them feel seen and appreciated and positively impact their attitude. Take this opportunity to glimpse into their personal lives if they are happy to share this with you.
2. Be approachable
Your housekeeper is part of your home, so make sure they can raise work-related issues with you. If they appear hesitant about coming to you, work on breaking down any barriers that may be causing this. Being approachable builds a sense of trust and confidence around you. Let them know that they can come to you if they have any challenges or to bounce an idea or two off you.
As you continue to create open communication lines, you will begin to connect on a personal level, making it easier for you to interact without restriction.
Be kind with your words—but also remember to maintain boundaries.
3. Involve them in decisions
If you are thinking of making changes on the home front, run your ideas by your domestic workers, especially if it directly involves their area of work, because they are bound to have an opinion or two to share on the subject.
“Involving your domestic workers in making decisions demonstrates the level of trust you have in them. Also, keep in mind that your domestic workers also understand their areas of operation better than you do.
For instance, your gardener would know more about the soil composition of your garden, and your housekeeper would give a better review on a homecare product that she uses in her daily routine,”
says Alisha Rajan, Country Manager for SweepSouth, an online home cleaning and maintenance service platform that connects people with trusted domestic professionals in Kenya.
Alisha further states that people respond better to changes when they are involved right from the beginning—at the decision-making stage.
4. Show interest
Be genuinely interested in your domestic worker’s life.
Are you aware of any underlying medical conditions or allergies that they may have? If you do, go the extra mile to offer support and provide a safe environment for them to work in. If one needs to attend to a personal matter, give a flexible working plan. At this point, you may get a temporary cleaner or gardener to step in through SweepSouth. It assures them of their job security.
Be attentive to the things they bring up with you and follow them up without being reminded. Ask how their families back home are faring, and refer to them by their names. These small gestures go a long way in demonstrating that you listen attentively to them.
5. Invest in them
If finances allow, invest in the people who work with and for you.
Identify their strong points and interests and pay for a training or short course for them. Also, expose them to the free online resources they can use during their free time. If they like to read, you may occasionally buy them books or share yours — this is a good conversation starter as you share the day’s highlights. Buy them extra ingredients to perfect a recipe they like.
Lastly, relating with people on a deeper level allows us to see into their lives to an extent, and with mental health issues on the rise, we can be able to identify whether someone is struggling and what type of support to give them.
And, however much convenience technology has also brought to the world, it shouldn’t replace human connection.