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First time hiring helper - Help!

  1. #1
    mum32 is offline Registered User
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    First time hiring helper - Help!

    Hello. It's my first time to hire a helper and I have hired one from the Philippines. She has never been to HK before and she is in her mid twenties.

    Her major role is to look after my newborn baby. So far she is doing fine. I always ask her if she is OK, any homesick etc but everytime I have the same answer which is 'Yes mum'.

    How do I know if she is really fine? I really care about her feelings and I want to make sure she is happy so she can do her job well.

    Also I have talked to a lot of local mums here about dealing with helpers and here is what I hear from them:
    1. Don't be too nice to the helpers. They will be very relaxed with you and take things for granted. On the other hand, don't be too nasty or they will take revenge (hmmmm the killing employer and the bleach in milk cases)?!
    2. Do not let the helpers to hang around with those who have been in HK for a long time. Although they may be experienced and know Hk quite well, they are smart and know all the tricks to the employers, they are lazy...?!
    3. If we want to tell the helpers to do something, just tell them straight, no need to explain why, talk less as they do not have the EQ to understand us. Forget about meetings with them, it's for the office, not for them, this is too civilized?!
    4. Keep an eye on them all the time by installing cameras or ask a close relative to come. We never know what they do while we employers are not at home.

    There are a few more of these comments but I have heard enough. They are so negative and make me paranoid. I am dying to hear the truth! I have also been reading some other threads and it seems that foreign employers do not have much problems with their helpers unlike the local ones.

  2. #2
    rani's Avatar
    rani is offline Administrator
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    I know its hard. We went through this with our helper as well. It took her a few months to get settled in HK and make friends. The one friend that she had in HK was a lot older and preferred to sleep in on a Sunday instead of going out. Only after she found a church she liked and started getting involved with the choir/ and the charity work they did, did she finally enjoy HK. Can you perhaps ask a friend's helper to show her around on Sunday. Does she have a mobile? Maybe give her some extra money to buy a calling card and call home.

    You're going to get a lot of advice regarding helpers. However, it's up to you to decide what's going to work for both of you.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    AndreaY is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by mum32 View Post
    Also I have talked to a lot of local mums here about dealing with helpers and here is what I hear from them:
    1. Don't be too nice to the helpers. They will be very relaxed with you and take things for granted. On the other hand, don't be too nasty or they will take revenge (hmmmm the killing employer and the bleach in milk cases)?!
    2. Do not let the helpers to hang around with those who have been in HK for a long time. Although they may be experienced and know Hk quite well, they are smart and know all the tricks to the employers, they are lazy...?!
    3. If we want to tell the helpers to do something, just tell them straight, no need to explain why, talk less as they do not have the EQ to understand us. Forget about meetings with them, it's for the office, not for them, this is too civilized?!
    4. Keep an eye on them all the time by installing cameras or ask a close relative to come. We never know what they do while we employers are not at home.
    I seriously hope you are not going to listen to them! It just sounds down right nasty. I do not believe you should treat them as a good friend (unless they have subsequently gained your trust as such), but there really is no need to treat helpers like uneducated inferiors, they are not. It's a simple employer, employee relationship and you need to have enough trust in your helper that she would do her job properly. If she needs training from you, you should explain the reason why and the way you need it done, then she hopefully will not merely be doing something she thinks is trivial and unimportant.

    If she is doing a good job, then tell her that. If she looks unhappy to you, just tell her that if she has a problem, she can always come to you. It's the most you can do, cos by the same token, you are not her best friend and "yes mam" maybe the only thing she wants to tell you about her personal feelings. Just bear in mind that she is new to you and vice versa, so opening up will take a little longer.

    But if she is not working to how you would like, you also need to tell her and not worry about hurting her feelings etc. It is why you hired a helper in the 1st place, to help you, so it is up to you to make sure it happens.

  4. #4
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    1. Don't be too nice to the helpers. They will be very relaxed with you and take things for granted. On the other hand, don't be too nasty or they will take revenge (hmmmm the killing employer and the bleach in milk cases)?!
    so, keep it civil, be friendly (but not friends). keep it employer/employee. but keep in mind how you would like to be treated.

    2. Do not let the helpers to hang around with those who have been in HK for a long time. Although they may be experienced and know Hk quite well, they are smart and know all the tricks to the employers, they are lazy...?!
    i don't think it is possible or desirable for you to "choose" her friends. what business is it of yours? that said, my helper is involved in her church. i've met most of her friends as i've given her extra money for them to buy a special lunch. i've invited them over for a bbq that i prepared and paid for. (for my helper's birthday)

    3. If we want to tell the helpers to do something, just tell them straight, no need to explain why, talk less as they do not have the EQ to understand us. Forget about meetings with them, it's for the office, not for them, this is too civilized?!
    just because they come from a poorer country means that they are stupid? not usually the case. i always find that explaining is BETTER as then my helper knows WHY i want something done a certain way.

    4. Keep an eye on them all the time by installing cameras or ask a close relative to come. We never know what they do while we employers are not at home.
    we never installed a camera. i believe that if i can't trust her, then i will fire her. as for having a relative come by... my mother-in-law is the one i need to keep an eye on. she gives my kids anything and everything they want. she doesn't ever use the word, "no". at least my helper does her best to follow my instructions and my wishes. my m-i-l just does whatever she wants to do and has no regard for my wishes.

  5. #5
    adalaka is offline Registered User
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    I totally agree with what AndreaY & carang mentioned about. Well said!

    While we don't have to be best friends with our helper I think a healthy employer-employee relationship with trust and respect go a much longer way then trying to be a control freak.

  6. #6
    mum32 is offline Registered User
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    Thank you so much for your valuable opinions.

  7. #7
    miao is offline Registered User
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    "I always ask her if she is OK, any homesick etc but everytime I have the same answer which is 'Yes mum'.

    How do I know if she is really fine? I really care about her feelings and I want to make sure she is happy so she can do her job well."

    This can be a bit tricky depending on your helper's personality and situation. My previous helper appeared stressed or worried from time to time and we knew that's because of various issues back at her home. Same as you, I wanted to make sure she's happy because she's also looking after my baby. However, when I asked her about the problems it often got awkward -- she would burst into tears and her problem was usually about money and the conversation usually ended with her asking for a salary advance -- a sick child needing money for medication, children school fees due but no money, family members demanding more money sent back, etc., etc. After this happened several times, I started to feel reluctant to ask her any more because I knew what I was going to hear and that probably wasn't what I wanted to hear.

    My current helper, though, has a brighter personality and seems to be able to handle her personal issues better (or may not have as many). I also have brief chats with her about her life but we both understand that our relationship is one of employment and in principle she's the one to to handle her personal issues.


    "1. Don't be too nice to the helpers. They will be very relaxed with you and take things for granted. On the other hand, don't be too nasty or they will take revenge (hmmmm the killing employer and the bleach in milk cases)?!"

    This sounds a bit harsh. But there is some truth in it if they were talking about management skills when dealing with your employees. I would say keep the relationship professional rather than too personal, be reasonable, show respect and care but still lay down rules, and be firm when instructions are not followed.

    They were right in the sense that some employees tend to be slack or take things for granted when the boss is too soft. It's certainly also true that a nasty employer will face consequences and the employee certainly will not necessarily delivery better performance. There IS some balance to strike for a healthy and productive relationship.

    "2. Do not let the helpers to hang around with those who have been in HK for a long time. Although they may be experienced and know Hk quite well, they are smart and know all the tricks to the employers, they are lazy...?!"

    I don't see how one can and should control who her helper makes friends with. If you are concerned about the tricks, better to learn about them yourself and know how to prevent your helper from playing them against you or find out if she's doing it.

    "3. If we want to tell the helpers to do something, just tell them straight, no need to explain why, talk less as they do not have the EQ to understand us. Forget about meetings with them, it's for the office, not for them, this is too civilized?!"

    I also try to explain things to my helper so that she understands and does things better. There have been a few occasions with my previous helper, though, when the explanation seemed to just confuse her. When that seemed to be the case I just stopped explaining and made it simple and told her what to do.

    "4. Keep an eye on them all the time by installing cameras or ask a close relative to come. We never know what they do while we employers are not at home."

    We never did that. When each of my helpers was new, I tried not to leave the baby with her alone for a long time, and only did that gradually after I was sure about their ability (and trustworthiness) to take care of the baby. So far I have not found anything inappropriate they did when we were away from home.

  8. #8
    mum32 is offline Registered User
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    Thanks miao. Your advice is very valuable.

    My helper is doing OK. I am getting what I have asked for (simple household chores and taking care of the baby). And so far I have not discovered any 'negative' behaviours such as stealing, telling lies etc...

    One thing that bothers me most is her personality. She looks sad and not cheerful which makes it very awkwad. She doesn't smile much and most of the time I am confused with her shy /sour faced facial expression. I don't want to ask her if she is fine as she will tell me the same answer 'yes mum' and I don't want to get involved in her personal problems.

    Sometimes I wonder if I am being too strict with her because I want things in order and properly done. Basically I don't talk to her much apart from giving her instructions. Sometimes I do ask her things like if she has had her dinner and if everything is OK. I never scold her or use harsh words as I believe this will ruin the relationship.

    I am not sure if that will affect my baby. From me and my husband's observations, she is not a baby/kid person. She doesn't seem to enjoy taking care of my baby and does not have a lot of patience. When she bottle feeds her, she will just stare at the baby and does not talk to her. I have tried to talk to her but it doesn't help much. I know I cannot expect her to be like us, feeding and playing with her with love and compassion.

    Well, I think I will just see how things go. Hope the situation will improve. If she is still miserable next year I will consider seriously to look for a new helper when her contract ends.

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