Making this year a better one with—and for—the person you employ

Among the many things the Women’s Marches around the world have shown us, one is just how many of us are ready to show up for one another. How many of us know that our lives are intertwined.

And when our homes are someone’s workplace, that interdependence is especially true and immediate: On the one hand, we rely on domestic workers to help make our lives possible. On the other, domestic workers need economic stability to make their lives possible, and fair work to reflect their dignity.

Our homes are also where many of us are confronting the threats we’re facing firsthand, from our children’s fears, to our own worries about health care, to immigrant domestic workers who may be newly fearful for themselves or their families.

In this time of growing crisis for workers, women of color, and immigrants, how can we make sure that the nannies, housecleaners, or home attendants who support us are more supported—as well as more valued as workers in our homes?

Ensuring you are a good, fair employer is the place to start. Here’s how.

Post-Trump triage, if necessary

If there is an immediate crisis, handle that first, of course. (We offered some tips around starting a conversation about the election in the fall.) In the next few weeks, we will also be sharing the ways we as employers are planning to participate in the broader Sanctuary Movement.

But having a stable, positive employment relationship is one of the best things you can do right now–for your benefit and for the worker’s. The new year is the perfect opportunity to set a new goal or put a new practice into place to make that relationship a stronger and more mutually supportive one. (And no, you don’t have to start on January 1 to make it worth setting a new goal for 2017!)

Reflect on how things have been

So take a moment to reflect on how things have been going with the person you employ. What went really well last year, and what was confusing or difficult? Has something been lingering in the back of your mind? (I really should have a written agreement in place. I meant to check the living wage for my city. Does she know that she can take sick days?)

Answering these seven quick questions is an easy way to get a temperature-check of how you’re doing overall as a Fair Care employer!

Now take another moment to think about what’s coming up for you in 2017. Are there any big changes on the horizon? Do you anticipate needing more support than you did last year, or less? Does anyone in your household have a big schedule change coming up? New work hours, changing schools?

Pick a priority

With these reflections in mind, what do you need to do? Schedule a check-in with the person you employ, or block out an hour of time on your calendar to review some of our resources once and for all?

If you feel like you have a laundry list of “to dos” for your domestic workplace, start by just picking one. Schedule an hour to address it sometime in the coming weeks. And while you’re at it, make yourself a reminder or date for spring to revisit your next priorities. Commit to making one concrete improvement first.

Our best ideas for a better year

  • It’s never too late to get your work terms in writing! Even if you hired someone with a handshake, creating a written agreement is still a great thing to do. It provides both of you with clarity. And if you’d like to make any changes to how things work, deciding to create an agreement is an opportunity to have that conversation. We have sample agreements you can use.
  • Take care of any check-ins, bonuses, or raise calculations that you meant to do at the end of last year. The holidays are a crazy time, but a late raise is always better than no raise at all. You can see our holiday & bonus tips here.
  • Commit to using the winter as a time to clarify your paid time off agreement. Make sure the worker you employ knows that she won’t lose pay for taking care of herself or a family member when the inevitable winter virus catches her. (Or for handling immigration-related issues.)

Building a stronger relationship, rooted in mutual respect and support, is its own reward for sure. But tracking our successes feels pretty good too. Mark your starting place now by taking that quick 7-question questionnaire, or doing a deep dive with the Employer Checklist.

Here’s to a year full of care and support, and lives and homes that we’re proud of!