The importance of onboarding in a private household

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A fantastic onboarding process, in a business or when recruiting for a private household, can make the difference between an employee enjoying their role and feeling like they’ve made the wrong choice.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into an organisation. It differs from orientation in that it covers a series of events, often over a multi-month period. It’s the first opportunity to set your new employee up for success, leaving them feeling supported and prepared for their new role.
In private households, in the absence of a traditional HR professional, this responsibility often falls to a private household PA or house manager. But with no official structure in place, it can be hard to know where to start. Get it right with these tips.

Prepare accordingly

Give your new employee the best chance of success by creating a detailed onboarding plan in preparation for their first day. Make sure you communicate their start date, time and location well in advance, as well as clarifying who they should be asking for upon arrival. Collate a professional welcome pack for their reference, including a house manual, payroll forms and any legal documents, such as an NDA. It’s also worth informing the principal and all other staff members of their imminent arrival, so they know to expect a new face within the household.

Face time on the first day

The foundation of any successful professional working relationship is communication, and there’s no better time to start this than on the first day. Take the time to meet with your new employee at both the beginning and end of their first day – it will give you a chance to get to know them a little better, as well as explain any necessary information about the house or family. It will also make the employee feel welcome and provide an opportunity to ask questions. In the initial meeting, show them around the relevant parts of the house and introduce them to any staff members.

Confirm responsibilities and organise training

While it may have been discussed during the recruitment process, it’s best to reiterate what tasks you expect the employee to complete in their new role. Running through each responsibility within the context of the home will give them a clear framework on which they can base their role, while allowing them to visualise what each task involves. If within remit, organise for them to shadow a fellow staff member in their first few weeks so they can see exactly how tasks should be performed.

It’s also worth establishing communication plans – who they report into, what they should do in an emergency and how the household communicates for less-urgent matters.

Create an onboarding structure

If an employee knows what to expect within the first weeks of their employment, they’ll feel much more confident approaching the role. Therefore, it’s worth laying out a plan of what their first month will look like. The initial ‘information dump’ can be incredibly overwhelming, so offering a structure where they have opportunities for questions, feedback and learning can be very reassuring. Should it be relevant, consider establishing initial goals so that the employee feels like they are contributing from the outset. These don’t need to be intensive – in fact, it’s better if they aren’t – but should give the employee an indication of what their role will look like moving forward.

Work out the legalities

In absence of an established HR system, elements like payroll and legal requirements can be confusing to a new employee. If you are a household PA or house manager, you should be the point of contact for all these concerns and as such, communicate how they work from the outset. Within the first few weeks, make sure you receive and process all employment paperwork and set up the relevant payment systems. Explain the pay dates, benefits and how expenses are submitted and reimbursed so there is no confusion. For full transparency, it may be worth having the family lawyer draw up an employment contract that both parties sign and keep.

We sat down with employment lawyer, Sofia Syed, to discuss hiring in a private household. Find out her best tips and tricks here.

Tiger Private can assist with all household and private PA recruitment, taking the stress out of hiring. Get in touch today!

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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