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How to increase the happiness of your domestic staff

Before you head out to work this morning, ask yourself a question: Are your employees happy?

At first it may sound like a strange request, but hear us out: It's a critical question that not enough employers (or families) ask themselves, and the end result is diminished motivation and engagement and a direct negative impact on your bottom line.

It's absolutely vital that you take the time to better understand your employees. You need to figure out whether they're happy and engaged, and, if not, why that's the case. After doing so, you can then work to improve their situation. Here are a few other questions you should answer:

  • How do they feel about their current position?
  • What motivates them? And why aren't they motivated or engaged?
  • What are their goals?
  • What kind of role do they feel they currently have, and are they happy in this role?

You can figure out these answers in any number of ways. For example, you might pass along anonymous surveys if your staff is large enough. Or you could even conduct a group meeting that acts like a focus group. If you only have a few domestic staff members, one-on-one meetings could suffice.

These types of questions will not only help you better understand your work force, it'll help you develop a plan of action to improve motivation and engagement. Once you've done your research, here are some ways you can put the data into action:

1. Give them a reason to do their work
In grade school, substitute teachers usually give students busy work because the full-time teacher is out for the day. Chances are, you weren't thrilled to receive it because it probably made you feel like you were wasting time. The same concept applies to real-world employment situations.

Don't make your employees feel like they're doing pointless work. Give them meaningful jobs that make them feel like they're growing as professionals.

Take for example a study of 2,500 workers from Amazon's Mechanical Turk, who were handed both "meaningless" and "meaningful" work. Researchers discovered that those who took part in "meaningful" activities were more productive than those who were doing "meaningless" work.

This study indicates that employers need to pay attention to the type of duties they're assigning their crew.

2. Be transparent
Don't leave your employees in the dark about what they're doing correctly or how they should improve. You need to meet with them regularly (we suggest at least once a week), to review their performance from the week prior and set or adjust goals. Employers who fail to communicate regularly are putting their crew at a disadvantage.

We also believe it's critical you ensure peer-to-peer communication is strong. Unfortunately many families don't take the time to build team chemistry, and the direct result is a unit that doesn't cohesively work together. This not only decreases engagement and productivity, it can increase turnover rates and hiring expenses.

3. Offer rewards and benefits
It's vital that you take time to reward your employees for their hard work, as well as offer them benefits that will keep them engaged and motivated.

Manual labor can take a toll mentally, physically and emotionally on employees, so figuring out which rewards work best is vital. This is where your employee surveys come in handy.

If your employees have longed to spend more time with their families, rewarding them with more time off could be a great way to increase their happiness. Or, if they'd like to develop more professionally, offering them the opportunity to take training courses could be an excellent way to keep them engaged.