Hiring a domestic helper in Singapore comes with its own set of expectations, both from you and your helper. Your housekeeper’s primary duty is caring for your home and children to the best of her ability, but you also have your own set of responsibilities to fulfill besides providing a basic salary.
Many housekeepers in Singapore are economic migrants from countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. They usually choose to work overseas because their localities of origin often lack the opportunities that would help them attain social mobility and financial security. Housekeepers are often fully aware of what their job entails, which includes having to live far from home for extended periods. However, they are, of course, people, so they are prone to feeling homesick, which can greatly affect their work performance.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your domestic helper feel less isolated through her daily duties. If you want to know where to start, below are five ways to help your housekeeper adjust to life in Singapore.
Help Her Adjust to Living in Your Household
Engaging with the best maid agency in Singapore helps ensure that you’ll find a worker who will be a perfect fit with your household. However, bringing in someone from overseas or from another household still tends to be fraught with difficulties, especially for the person who’s actually doing the move.
Working in a new environment can be intimidating for many people. Whether your domestic helper was transferred from another employer or from her country of origin, it may take some time for her to acclimatize to your household. That being said, do what you can to ensure that this transition is pleasant. To do this, make sure to provide your domestic helper with all the resources required by the Ministry of Manpower. These include appropriate accommodations, a reasonable work schedule, and the proper amount of food to sustain her throughout her daily work duties.
Give Time for Family and Friends
Another important thing to consider is how often your housekeeper can stay in touch with her family back home. It’s lonely to work in a foreign country, and not being able to immediately attend to family matters means that your housekeeper needs enough time to catch up on what’s been happening. As her employer, you’ll want to give her a schedule that doesn’t interfere with her work, but also gives her enough time to speak to loved ones in uninterrupted privacy.
For example, you can allow her one or two hours of call time on a weekly basis, while giving her permission to connect with her family through other channels—like social media—during break times. When scheduling, it helps to clearly discuss what she can do with her spare time and what she can’t do during work hours.
Like any kind of relationship, communication is crucial in fostering a healthy environment for you and your housekeeper. Letting your domestic helper go about her work without proper communication will not only lead to disastrous misunderstandings, but it could also encourage homesickness.
Even though you might not speak her native language, it helps to find a common tongue to communicate with, whether that’s English or some other language. Set aside time to ask her how she’s doing and whether she has concerns that need to be addressed, and do this as consistently as possible. Your housekeeper may be too shy to approach you when it comes to concerns like her own health, so it’s always best to make sure that you’re not unintentionally neglecting these needs.
Lastly, it helps to create an environment for constructive communication and growth. If your housekeeper makes a mistake, avoid yelling at her or throwing insults. This could discourage her from actually fixing the mistake, and it may also prevent her from approaching you when she has questions or concerns. Be firm but not cruel; tell her why you’re upset about a mistake and give her advice on what she can do to avoid it the next time around.
Be Kind and Be Hospitable
Though it can be uncomfortable to entrust your household to a stranger, it’s necessary to treat your housekeeper with kindness and hospitality. One part of this kindness is respecting her religious or cultural traditions, like attending Sunday mass if she’s Catholic or practicing her daily adhan if she’s Muslim. Allowing her to access these religious and cultural practices is one way of making her feel more at ease in your home.
During special events like holidays or her birthday, you can choose to celebrate by taking her out with your family or giving her the time off to relax. You can also opt to give her a gift or some extra money as a form of gratitude for her work. Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s good to let your domestic helper know that you acknowledge the work she does for your home.
Allow Some Exploration and Cultural Immersion
Besides connecting with loved ones back home, exploring and building connections outside can also help your housekeeper adjust to her new environment. Let her explore the sights and sounds of Singapore, either by taking her out on family trips or giving her the time to do so during her days off.
Allowing your domestic helper to join certain community groups with other housemaids—whether physical or online—can provide her with a support system of people who share the same experiences working abroad, which can be therapeutic when battling homesickness.
Having a housekeeper can certainly lessen the load when managing a busy household, especially if you have a demanding work schedule and kids to care for. In order to avoid the homesickness that could prevent your domestic helper from efficiently doing her tasks, it’s important to ensure that she’s comfortable enough in your household and that her needs for connection are being addressed.