Four-point plan for effective hiring

Finding the right person to care for your children, manage your calendar or handle other vital tasks can be a real challenge. Choosing the wrong person can inconvenience you and potentially expose your family to a variety of risks and threats.

How badly can things go wrong? One homeowner’s caretaker frequently came to work late and was sloppy in completing his regular duties. When the problems didn’t improve, the employer fired him. After he was terminated, the caretaker sued for wrongful termination. He claimed the employer never stated formal work hours, didn’t establish clear goals or objectives, and didn’t have a performance review process in place. The employer ended up having to pay back wages and offer the caretaker his job back.

The following four-point plan can help you hire employees responsibly and create the foundation for a successful working relationship.

1. Prepare a pre‐hire guide

Before you begin your search for a new employee, create a pre-hire guide that includes:

  • A formal offer letter that clearly addresses salary, benefits, schedule, attire, etc.
  • A recap of goals, roles and responsibilities for the new employee
  • Clarity on who will supervise the employee and where to go with questions
  • House rules (for property, safety and security, interaction with family, guests, vendors and staff)
  • A specific list of daily and weekly duties

Simple to do but often overlooked, a written job description helps you and the employee achieve clarity on what is expected. It should include a scope of duties, skills, experience and talents required, as well as requirements versus “nice-to-haves.” Be as specific as possible when describing the candidate's anticipated responsibilities. For example, rather than telling a prospective nanny that the job will require some driving, say: “Our kids have after-school activities four days per week, and we'll need you to drop them off and pick them up.”

2. Create a work agreement

Once you’ve found a suitable employee who has accepted the position, he or she should sign a work agreement that outlines:

  • Hours and schedule, including breaks and lunchtime
  • Compensation (payment time and frequency, withholding and overtime policies)
  • Vacation, personal/sick days and holidays (paid and non-paid)
  • Access to the home (cell and home telephone privileges, kitchen rules, etc.)
  • Performance reviews and termination policies

No initial hire is complete without at least a basic review of your family’s service expectations. Etiquette, courtesy and pleasantries go a long way to making both the new employee and your family feel comfortable around each other and household guests.

3. Plan for the first day

To help the new employee acclimate quickly, treat the first day on the job as seriously as one would in an office environment. Have a designated person—yourself, another family member or a current staffer—greet the new employee. Someone (it can be the same person as the greeter) also should be designated to walk the new hire through an orientation including a discussion of house rules and a review of employee and property manuals.

In addition, introduce the employee to the existing staff, discuss the house rules and explain the process for time and expense reporting. This also is a good time to review and complete new hire forms, including:

  • US citizenship and immigration services form I-9
  • IRS form W-4
  • Work agreement
  • State and local tax withholding forms (if required)
  • Job description
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • An overview of service expectations

Next, do a walk-through and demonstrate how each duty on the job description should be performed. Don’t skip steps or tasks assuming the new employee should know how to do the job. If he/she has potential for long-term employment, the time you invest in building a relationship on the first day will yield great returns.

Finally, determine when and who will issue needed tools or equipment (cell phone, keys and security codes) to the new employee and review how it is to be used.

4. Conduct a one-week review

Keep communication channels open and encourage questions. After several days in the position, see if the new employee understands the role and if the job is being done to your satisfaction. Often times private staff members feel intimidated by their employers and do not know when it is appropriate to seek help.

Last updated: Friday, April 28, 2017

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