Maid OrientationDay 1
Congratulations on hiring a housekeeper!
The benefits of trained and experienced house help can be numerous, but the importance of your role as an employer in setting the tone for your employer/employee relationship from day one, should not be underestimated. Unless you have hired a placement agency, with the agreement for that agency to carry out a full orientation for your new employee within your home, this is up to you as the employer. Research shows that an employee will form his or her core opinions of his or her employer, within the first two weeks of employment, and that the tone that is established during that time, will set a firm precedent for the employees long-term responses to said employer. The following are a few items to start to read through and prepare as your employee’s first day approaches.
What to prepare in advance of Day 1
- Housekeeper Orientation Handbook-Day 1 (English and Thai versions available) – Read through these guidelines in advance, and print out a Thai copy for your housekeeper to follow through during the orientation. We do recommend these basic guidelines as a minimum, but please take the time to add your own additions, and make your own notes and adjustments to these guidelines, based on what is most important, or a value to you or your family specifically. Ask yourself “what are the make-it-or-break-it” values in your household? Think personal policies, safety concerns, and overall behavioral expectations, as opposed to specific task requirements at this time. What kind of character or behavioral traits are you looking for, and which ones drive you nuts? Are you looking for someone chatty, so that you or your kids pick up the language? Or do you prefer someone who works quietly in the background? Is it going to bother you if your maebaan grabs a random pair of your shoes to take out the trash or to do the watering? The latter is very common in Thai culture. If you don’t address issues such as these up front, they will most likely happen. And they are always more awkward or difficult to address after the fact. You don’t speak Thai? We’ve thought of that too! Our Maid Orientation-Day 1 is available in video format. Just provide your housekeeper with a tablet/ipad and press play.
- Daily Order of Tasks-Quick Card in English and Thai- Again, read through and make your own adjustments to this schedule to suit your needs. We suggest you print out two copies of the Thai version of this document; one for your housekeeper to reference during orientation, and another to affix to a wall in your housekeeper’s break/lunch area, or in the laundry/utility room for example.
- Emergency Contacts/Important Phone Numbers. Print out a copy for your housekeeper to then fill out on Day 1/Orientation.
- When you contact an applicant with the job offer, ask them to bring the following documents to be presented on the first day of work: National ID card, Drivers license (if they have one), and their house registration papers (main page).
Day 1- Housekeeper OrientationReady set go!
She’s in your living room. You’re on!
- Collect Documents. During the interview, you likely requested copies of important documents to be presented on the first day of work; ID card, Drivers license (if they have one), and their house registration papers (main page). Even if you were given a recent photo during the interview, It’s a good idea to take a digital photograph of your new employee for your files at this time.
- Welcome your new employee; try to set them at ease and let them know that you are anticipating a good working relationship.
- General Expectations. Referring to your Maid Orientation Handbook, Day-1, talk through your general expectations for your new maid/housekeeper. Ask your housekeeper for any questions or points of clarification needed. This is possibly the most critical step of a successful orientation. If your housekeeper does not fully appreciate the value of an employee who is teachable and fully able to follow your instructions and abide by “house rules”, chances are much higher of setting yourself up for disappointment as your specific needs are not taken seriously.
- Emergency Contacts. Give your new housekeeper a copy of your list of Emergency Contacts. Have your housekeeper fill out a transliteration of the English names into Thai, and affix to the fridge, or in the housekeepers break room or laundry area.
- Cleaning schedule requirements/Job Scope. Present your day-to-day housekeeping needs, taking the time to emphasize what specific cleaning needs are most important to you. A good way to highlight personal requirements that are important to you is to contrast those needs with other potential tasks, that may be much less valued by you, but may be considered important to your housekeeper. For example, if sweeping your driveway each day (a common practice in Thai culture) isn’t nearly as important to you as fastidious laundry practices, such as careful separation of laundry by color (often not a priority in Thai culture), then contrasting the relative importance of these two items may be helpful in getting across your values to your new housekeeper. If food safety/good hygiene/hand washing is super important to you over ironing, make sure that is very clear at this time.
- Daily Routine. Start with the Daily Order of Tasks and walk through each item. Take time to answer any questions (and set a precedence for openness and an expectation for questions).
- Tour of home. If the initial interview was conducted in your actual home, a quick general tour of the home may have been done. Now is the time to do a more thorough walk-through off all rooms and storage areas, opening up linen closets and supply cupboards etc. along the way, and giving a basic overview of the contents. This will give your housekeeper more confidence in going into cupboards and rooms on his/her own. Indicate where you would like your housekeeper to store her purse and any personal belongings, and where she can eat her lunch/take her breaks. Indicate which bathroom(s) may be used by the housekeeper (if you have a preference-even if you don’t, they may actually want to hear it from you).
- Less is more on day 1. Depending on the experience of your new housekeeper, for Day-1, you may want to stick to this adage, and avoid overwhelming your new employee. Keep in mind that, if you are a “Farang”/ Expat in a host country, your housekeeper is about to be immersed in a very different cross-cultural work environment from what they are accustomed to, with each new Farang/expat family potentially bringing their very own set of drastically different cultural expectations and standards. If your helper is relatively inexperienced, try to stick to some basics on the first day. A good start might be dishes, sweeping and mopping and bathrooms (opposed to having them cooking a meal or planning a menu-unless they have specifically been hired and trained for these tasks in particular, and have the experience as well). Especially if you are “going it alone” without the aid of a contract with an agency to walk your employee through their initiation into your home, if at all possible, try to make yourself as available as possible (without being overbearing) during your housekeeper’s first couple of days (minimum), to answer questions and to oversee their work. Again, the importance of setting a good precedent during the first days and weeks cannot be overstated and making sure that your new housekeeper understands and is able to carry out their work to your standards, right from the beginning, is key to a successful hire. You may even want to consider sending your housekeeper home a bit early, with some encouragement on a successful first day (or at least restating your anticipation of a good working relationship going forward), and with an explanation that normally they will be expected to work their full hours, but that you don’t want to overwhelm them all in day one, and that you’d like for them to take some time to review and process the guidelines and expectations that you set forth earlier.
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Everyone knows how to do dishes right? Well, pretty much everyone has a way of doing dishes, yes. But is a hot water wash important to you? Thai homes generally do not feature hot water in the kitchen. In this case, the concept of boiling water in a pan on the stove, which may be a natural solution to you, will likely sound bizarre to a less experienced Asian housekeeper.
- dishes/kitchen clean-up
- making up beds
- cleaning bathrooms
Consider skipping on Day-1
- childminding (unobserved)
- cooking/food prep