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2nd opinion on helper issues

  1. #1
    nicolejoy's Avatar
    nicolejoy is offline Registered User
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    2nd opinion on helper issues

    We have hired our current (and so far only) helper for the past 2.5 years. We resigned her contract this past May. From the beginning, she was never "perfect" for our family - I hired her based on a friends recommendation and didn't really look around for helpers at all, or even really give her a "proper" interview.

    From the beginning, our helper was very quiet and wouldn't want to converse at all with us, not even wanting to meet our eye. Over the past 2 years, it has been the source of much frustration, mainly since she will not ever ask us for direction or clarification on anything.

    Recently (I think since we hired her), we've had a few changes... 1 - I'm more busy with study, and in May I had to work 5 weeks full time. I have to work another 5 weeks in October. Her workload has increased because of this. 2 - I started using these microfibre cleaning cloths which mean you clean with water only. She has really resisted using these.

    It seems as though recently she has begun "talking back" a lot more - and not in a nice way. Here's one example:

    I've shown her how to use this particular fruit and vegetable cloth in particular for washing apples. When used correctly, it takes all the wax off them and leaves them shiny. I've shown her about 3-4 times and still she does not follow the instructions. On Saturday I told her "These apples are not cleaned properly. Can you please do it again", and I showed her yet again. Her response was "I already cleaned them, they're only going to get dusty again before you eat them. Why do you all of a sudden want to eat shiny apples anyway? You used to each them not shiny. If you want your apples shiny, you should wash them right before you eat them."

    Now apart from me disagreeing with some of what she said, I don't like how she will not communicate any of her "concerns" with me until she completely blows up. There have been quite a few of these situations recently which leave me feeling on edge about asking her to do ANYTHING...

    Now in many ways, she is a "good enough" helper. She is good with the kids, they like her (and she is far more friendly with them than she is with us as well). She is trustworthy (the only time there has been any discrepancy with the finances, she's had too much money in the petty cash). She's generally quiet and doesn't get into our business...

    The thing is, I feel as though the general atmosphere in our house lately is so negative - and even though we've tried talking with her and working through the issues, it doesn't seem to be helping (in fact it seems to be getting worse).

    My husband is telling me we should fire her and we'll all be happier then - but we still need a helper and I'm worried that we'll fire her only to replace her with someone worse!

    Any thoughts? (am happy to answer questions too..)

  2. #2
    elle is offline Registered User
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    Was recently in a similar situation with our helper, who has been with us for a long time and is generally pretty good at her job (and not at all overworked, fixed hours 8-6 with a lunch break and very little childcare, a few hours one afternoon a week). Our helper had some issues, became snappy around me when I would ask her to do things slightly differently, like to clean X instead of Y on a particular day (which would not cause her to have to work late) or to clean something differently. I talked to her about it a few times, but never really seriously. Then one morning she had a huge blow up. I asked her to leave the house, told her not to come back for the day and that I would speak with her later. I wrote her up, spoke with her the next day, told her that I would not tolerate her recent "attitude" anymore, explained that in the 'real world' people cannot expect to act like that and keep their job and I certainly do not treat anyone at my work that way, and asked her to think about whether she could change her attitude or if she wanted to look for a new employer. I told her that she does a good job and we are happy to have her stay, but only if she acts appropriately and respectfully and that if there was even one more issue i would, immediately, show her the door.

    So far, so good, but I would not hesitate to terminate her if she ever raises her voice to me or anyone else in our house again or if she questions/ refuses any of my instructions again. Just ask your helper if she wants to stay and tell her that if she does, none of her BS will be tolerated and that if she doesn't, well, then show her the door. Perhaps she doesn't realize her job is in jeopardy and if she is generally good and the situation is salvageable, at least for us, it was easier to put everything on the table and give it one more go than try to look for someone else.
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    after having an "acceptable at everything, but stellar at nothing" helper for 6 years, then a helper who really was awful with my kids, we have now got a new helper.

    the difference in our household is amazing. our new helper has only been with us for a couple of weeks, but already, the kids absolutely adore her. she is pretty good with the cleaning, excellent with the kids, no attitude at all, quite friendly, open to having a conversation (and not just about work)... we just have to work on the cooking (she has no idea how to cook western food).

    what i'm trying to say is that the helper we had in the middle was affecting the attitudes of everyone in the household without our even realising it. we were all living on a knife edge but had no idea. our lives have become so much more relaxed, fun, cheerful having gotten rid of her negativity. to my way of thinking, it is your home. you should feel comfortable in your own home. it isn't up to her to decide how to clean the apple. it is up to you. she is the employee and should follow your instructions.

    if you aren't happy, then get rid of her. maybe give her until your done your 5 weeks full time, then find a replacement.
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    ps> replacing with someone worse is always a concern... but really, the toll having our previous helper was taking was only really noticeable to us once she was gone. it was like a massive storm cloud cleared and the sun shone again... i know, it sounds dramatic, but that is really what it felt like!
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  5. #5
    elle is offline Registered User
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    also, if i was home more, or she worked longer hours when we were around, i would probably just have terminated her as living with the negativity/ attitude would be miserable. currently i only see her for a little while each day (30 minutes or less), and our daughter is also out most of the day, or in her own part of the house with her caregiver, so her attitude wasn't affecting the household too much and when it did that is when i gave her the choice.

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate the thoughts...

    One thing I'm thinking is that when she first came, I was pregnant with a baby who (at the time) I wasn't even sure if she would live - my world was upside-down and I really didn't "bother" with the whole helper thing. I knew I needed help but didn't do any training or anything. Two years later, I AM "bothered" by the way things happen around my home and I want to make some changes - but she's been doing things "her way" for almost the entire time she's been with us. Any change that I ask, she resists. I'm thinking maybe part of the problem is that it's hard to "train" a helper who has already been with us for 2 years... even impossible?

    All that said, the more I think about it, I think she has to go... the awkward thing is that I start a teaching placement in 2 weeks so will be working full time through til the end of November... so I need her until then. Might just hold my breath for another 2 months and know that the end is in sight...

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    carang's Avatar
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    look at it this way: you now have time to search for a helper that will really work with you. you don't need to tell your current helper that you are looking. just make appts out of the house or on sunday when your helper is off.

    you can start the paper work asap and you will likely get the visa by the end of november. when you do get it, then you can give her 1 month salary and say "sayonara!"

    it all seems sneaky, but after having terminated our last helper early and having her work for the month, i would not recommend that route at all, especially if you will be leaving your girls with her full time for a month.

    just suck it up for now, but be on the look out for a replacement.

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    My hubby thinks it is cruel to terminate with immediate effect... I see the benefit but am undecided - particularly since it's more of a "personality clash" in many ways rather than dereliction of duty...

    I was originally planning on taking a "summer" (Australian Summer) class from November-March, but think I may take some time off to focus on my house and kids... that will give me 4 months with no classes/study to be able to sort it all out... maybe some time without a helper would be good for us too (maybe, maybe not!!)

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