Deutschland, NRW, Essen, Frau, 41 Jahre, Fruhling,, Fenster, Putzen, Fruhjahrsputz

OPINION: The right household help has not yet crossed your path

How can we make the job of household help more attractive, Erika Tuypens wondered? She writes this opinion piece out of her desire to increase the well-being of her employees with the ultimate goal of a satisfied customer. That is why it is launching a call to other sector companies to endorse a code of conduct.

More than a million families in our country call on a service check company to bring in household help. The sector employs 153,000 people, but is facing a dire shortage due to rising demand. 

Recently I got the following question:

“Our household help will soon retire after 35 years of active service. She started in her twenties with my parents and even lived in for a few years. When I got married, she also came to help me in my starting family and recently she also started helping my children who have just left home… Can you look for someone to replace her? ”

It sounded familiar. I remember Irène who came to brush with my grandmother in the 60s – my grandmother could ask her anything, Irène would get it sorted out somehow. I have a living memory of the special relationship between Irène and my grandmother.

My grandmother was the quiet businesswoman who brought people together and somehow managed to be liked by everyone. However, she was the one who passed on the to-do list to Irène and had quite some expectations regarding the result, on the other hand it was she who was also very fond of Irène and was very understanding for the not always obvious home situation in which Irène lived.

The coffee scented through the kitchen whenever Irène was there and the biscuit was also ready

The coffee scented through the kitchen whenever Irène was there and the biscuit was also ready; Irène could tell her story to my grandmother during that 15 minute break. My grandmother understood that those little extras, apart from a correct payment of course, could make Irène feel good with her and with the assigned tasks, that she would be happy to do it for her. Not so much because all those tasks are so much fun, but because it was for my grandmother and her family, because a bond was created of mutual understanding, of mutual respect, of living close to each other and yet keeping the necessary distance.

“Ma’am, can you introduce me to someone who can replace her?”

Yes, madam, sir, we can arrange replacement, but the bond you describe, the symbiosis you are referring to, will take time, it will take energy and it will never be “acquired”. This will have to be built on, mutual trust will have to grow and, above all, you, madam, sir, will have to be prepared to start over from scratch.

The silent certainties that you had over decades, the evidences that you experienced as a child, can be rebuilt, but it will be with a new person, in a new environment, with new and diverse customs and cultures, in a new, different society.

The society of that time and that of today can hardly be compared with each other, much of our contacts have been professionalized

The society then and now can hardly be compared with each other, many of our contacts have become professionalized and therefore more distant. Expectations have certainly not diminished and the personal bond that is actually the cement in every employment relationship is in many cases absent today.

In our demanding lives, both private and professional, we set the bar so high for ourselves that “Irène” would probably not be selected to work for our clients. My household help is no more or less than me, he or she is different, it used to be the case and it is still the case today.

However, the focus on the people around us, and therefore also on the household helpers, mutual understanding and trust is still something that has to grow and has never been definitively acquired, but the way we look at human relationships today has evolved.

Our household help is in many cases our home manager who must demonstrate organizational talent, interpretation skills and discretion

This also applies to the way in which our household help looks at us, thinks about what they hear and see in our most intimate world, our private home, how they compare this to their own habits, insights and opinions. This has changed radically in the last decades.

In many cases, our household help is our home manager who must demonstrate organizational talent, ability to interpret and discretion. The stigma that the household helpers are less sensible, less educated, have less skills and that this work could be done by everyone is absolutely outdated and obsolete.

Today, people consciously choose this job in which they actually assist families, singles and the elderly in their household tasks and you do not easily do that in between two jobs. However, this misconception is sometimes still reverberating and certain regrettable situations of mutual dissatisfaction can often be reduced to a few helpful tips for meeting each other.

The Dome Charter wishes to respond to this and is often used as a useful tool in situations where the necessary click between customer and household help is missing. After all, your household help enters your world and wants to respect your habits; In addition to their own insights and habits, he or she must adapt to the diverse and different environments of other customers in which they operate.

That is why it is necessary to be clear about the expectations, to repeat them every now and then, and to explain where necessary in order to rule out misunderstanding

Your household help enters your environment and wants to respect your habits

A charter for the household help is not a miracle solution but a manual in which some principles for cooperation, living together, between household help and customer are mapped out in a clear and concise manner.

The end goal is for both parties to feel good about themselves and to be mutually understanding and respectfully “seen” in all their differences and similarities. This is one of the parameters to achieve a high-quality collaboration and to obtain an optimal fulfillment of expectations for the customer.

The customer wants an eye for quality service, continuity, respect and discretion. The household help wants exactly the same – few cancellations, realistic expectations, timely payments, correct and clear communications and…. “To be seen” – a kind word, a pat on the back, trust…

Erika Tuypens
Erika Tuypens is director of Dome Assistance. She started her own company and developed a code of conduct to increase the well-being of her employees with the ultimate goal of a satisfied customer.