When we talk about talent we normally refer to talent within the corporate or sporting world, as well, of  course, as the proud moms and dads who all have naturally talented children. You don’t often hear people talking of the domestic talent in our households. The talent I’m referring to in this post is our nanny that looks after our daughter four days a week, or perhaps the housekeeper that runs your home like clockwork, or the angel that does your ironing once a week.

More often than not we think of talent as the high fliers in investment banks or the engineers and accountants that are head hunted on a regular basis. Their profiles tell their stories on Linkedin, their networks go far and wide, they are confident, know their worth and work at being talented.

In my opinion, – talent comes in many shapes and forms, and we should acknowledge that.

Gladys, our nanny and housekeeper, is one of the most amazing women in my life. Every morning she arrives at 7.30am with the biggest smile on her face, greeting my daughter and I in a way that starts my day off on just the right note. Layla squeals with delight when she arrives and throughout the day I can hear them happily jabbering away to each other.  Glad shares advice with me, takes initiative with Layla, helps out where she’s not expected, stays late without hesitation, and I swear – that smile never leaves her face.

In my mind it’s 100% talent – natural talent.  I’m just lucky that there isn’t a head hunting company for amazing nannies in KZN because I’m telling you now – if there was, Gladys would be able to command 2 or 3 times the amount that we can afford to pay her.

So my question that I ask myself is how do I make sure I retain Gladys in ‘my company’ – let’s call it Foulston Home Pty Ltd. How do I ensure that I have a happy employee who continues to give of her time and energy as she currently does.

In my opinion, it’s something that those of us who are lucky enough to have domestic help should be working at constantly – just as we have a career path at work, why should we think that those people that we employ shouldn’t have one either. I don’t believe that intrinsically people ever want to do a bad job – whether it’s heading up an investment bank or looking after a home – we’re wired to want to achieve, not to fail.

Of course working for a corporate and working as a domestic comes with it’s differences, but I strongly believe that there are some fundamental needs that should be met in both places of work. For example –  if your domestic has performed consistently well during the year, make sure you give her / him a good bonus, and acknowledge the effort that has been delivered. If your domestic work is sick, make sure she’s given the right amount of sick days – most of us make sure that amongst our work benefits we are covered with medical aid – do you cover your domestic’s medical fund, or at least give her some medicine when she’s ill or are you more worried about her just taking advantage of being sick and bug her to get back to work as soon as possible.  Just a thought – but have you ever been tempted to ‘pull a sickie’ when things aren’t going well at work and you’re not feeling appreciated or overworked.

You count the days until your annual holiday and many will complain if the company they work for dictates when employees have to take their leave – how many households dictate when their domestics take their leave – shouldn’t it be up to them – don’t they also have weddings and family to visit at times that are convenient for them?

And what about feedback – how do you feel when you’ve done a great job at the office and it goes unnoticed or unrewarded – does that motivate or demotivate you? Perhaps an extra thank you when the large pile of ironing has been packed away, or windows have been cleaned at their own initiative would go a long way.

It’s a personal choice – some families will think it’s important and some won’t care. Some companies value their employees, some don’t.  I’ll tell you what – I make damn sure that the one employee at Foulston Home Pty Ltd is a very happy one, because this little organization simply can’t do without ours.

How’s your little, and big, organization doing when it comes to looking after their employees?

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