Personally, employing domestic staffs have always been a challenge for me, including semi-skilled workers that we employ to work at my various business outlets. Almost every staff we employed robbed us in one way or the other; and after one of frequent trips to the police station and a police man remarked, “why do you people take risk by employing total strangers and committing your entire house into their hands?” That got us thinking of course because we realized that we were making a lot of mistakes in hiring domestic staffs or business staffs.
HERE ARE COMMON MISTAKES WE MAKE IN EMPLOYING DOMESTIC STAFFS OR EMPLOYEES IN GENERAL
1. We don’t really know their last names. How many of you know the real names of your nannies, maids, drivers (chauffeurs) or sales staff? This is one vital fact that eludes us.
2. How many of us follow up on references or even agents? Do you know the office address or home address of the agents you use? Besides their first name and phone numbers, we know very little about them.
3. We do no background checks and rely on references from friends or families.
Following current trends of domestic staffs robbing their employees or abducting their employees’ kids, I had to consult with my security operative who provides security services for me and these are his recommendations:
SECURITY MEASURES TO ADOPT IN EMPLOYING DOMESTIC STAFFS AND STAFFS IN GENERAL
1. DO A BACKGROUND CHECK
Background checks include making the agent and the staff submit passport photographs, getting them to fill Guarantor forms, providing sureties should something go wrong and getting to know where both the agent and staff reside and some family details. My security consultant found out from background checks that the addresses provided by staffs were false and so also were the people they claimed to be relatives false as well. Background checks cost money but money wisely spent secures life and property. One practical example of why guarantor forms and background checks are important was when my parents’ chauffeur and sales staff stole my dad’s car only to crash into a shop moments later. Not only were they apprehended but the agent got members of the staff’s family to pay for the car.
But please, do not be deceived by companies claiming to build database of domestic staff and asking you to pay for verification. Not only are they not affiliated to the police, their database only contains information provided by the staffs themselves. They do not conduct any background check and say staff verification exercise is just a scare tactic. If you ask me, I can scare my staff all by myself without having to pay anyone to scare them for me. If you have a criminal in your employment, such scare tactics mean nothing.
2. INVEST IN CCTV. CCTV or “nanny cams” are an expensive investment but with it, you can monitor your staff’s activities, telephone conversations and any suspicious moves. Most times, your staff do not act alone; there’s always an outsider – and many times, the cohort is the agent, so there is a higher chance that you can arrest any unfortunate situation before it happens with the CCTV.
3.CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE:
My security consultant recommends one changing routines periodically. By shuffling your routine, staffs are unable to predict your movements. You can choose to vary the times you get home, be erratic and unpredictable, that way your patterns become confusing to employees.
4. GET TO KNOW YOUR STAFFS
Do you know that maids change their names every time they change employers? Many maids give away vital information when you converse with them. Ask them personal questions like their family name, the name of their village, do they have relatives near or far, and what relationship they have with the agent. Such information will come out in friendly conversation.
5. KEEP YOUR BUSINESS PRIVATE
By business, I mean keep your personal life private. Some weeks ago while waiting to pick my kids from school, I overhead chauffeurs exchanging fact sheets on their employers and I was amazed. It’s during such gathering that the devil rare its ugly head! While your staff may be innocent minded, the people around him may not. Soon enough, they would suggest they rob you or abduct a loved one for ransom and all your staff need do is provide an opportunity while they do the dirty work. A parent at my kids’ school once told me that after giving the cheque for her kids’ school fees to be paid by the chauffeur, the man screamed in amazement that how could she pay so much for such little kids. Next day, he asked for a raise! People like that will see an opportunity immediately to either rob you or abduct your kids. You may not know but your chauffeurs hear every business conversation you have on the phone on the drive to work; your maid hear you and your spouse or friends say how much you bought this or that; and all they can think of are the big numbers. Some employers are an open book – no secrets and not discreet. The more you expose such big numbers to your staff, the more you present an opportunity for evil.
6. BE SUSPICIOUS OF EVERYONE!
I hear people say how they trust their staff only for the staff to turn around to harm them. Evil minded staffs begin by winning your trust before harming you. Watch out for changes in behavior, soft cues and inconsistencies. Something bad usually follows.
7. BE SAFE!
If you live in a gated community like an estate, take your staff to the security guards at the gate and tell them he or she is not allowed to leave your house with your belongings or your kids without your authorization. Give them your phone number, and from time to time, show them some appreciation. Do same at your kids school as well.
Being safety conscious is very important so please find time to put safety and security measures in place.