Domestic workers from the Philippines in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. Photo: HK Government

Employers typically seek good domestic workers to take care of their homes or their children or elderly parents in order that the employers can focus on their careers.

But how can employers find a domestic worker with the right work attitude and performance to ensure that they not only pass their three-month probation period, but continue in the job longer-term?

A veteran employment agent says the key, in fact, depends on employers’ attitudes towards their domestic workers.

Cheung Kit-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association, shared his experience and know-how in a feature story on employer-maid relationships in Ming Pao Daily.

Speaking from 42 years’ experience as an employment agent, Cheung recommended that employers who want to have a good relationship with their workers to take the initiative and treat their employees kindly and politely.

Cheung said no one is able to do all things perfectly. Thus, employers should ask themselves which task they regard as important and, before hiring domestic workers, prioritize that task, whether it might be taking care of the baby or cooking or cleaning the house.

Only after they decide what kind of workers they are looking for should employers check with interview candidates to see whether they are suited to their needs.

Cheung believed that if the domestic workers like the job they are chosen for, they can perform better.

If treated nicely and given time to adapt to their environment and to the family they are working for, Cheung said most domestic workers are willing to work more.

Cheung advised bosses not to present new employees with over-long task lists or schedules too packed with work to avoid them quitting soon after taking on a new job.

Many domestic workers will appreciate their employers if they are treated in a nice way.

“They only want to work hard and earn money for their own family,” Cheung said.

Cheung also advised employers to work hard at communicating with their employees. Clear explanations, if necessary assisted with photographs, will help workers follow instructions.

“(There is) no need to scold them, which only makes them scared,” Cheung said.

Sometimes, he said, employers might want to explain to their domestic workers the financial difficulties the family are facing so that employees can better understand the situations faced by their employers.

Cheung asserted that only those employers with an open mind and who were prepared to treat their domestic workers kindly could look forward to a good relationship with their employees.

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