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Care Management: How's Your Housekeeping Job Going?

Tiffany Smith
Feb. 25, 2008

Make sure you and your employer have the same expectations.

Congratulations! You've just been hired to help someone take care of their home. You'll want to pay extra-close attention the first few times you clean to make sure you're meeting your employer's expectations. Keeping the lines of communication open can go a long way towards having a positive work experience.

Here are a few tips that will help keep the relationship a smooth one:

  • Start by creating a list of everything you are required to do. Go over the list together so you both understand and agree on the requirements.
  • Set a trial period. Agree that after two weeks your employer will review how things are going. If the employer is not satisfied, or has concerns about how you are doing the job, a trial period with an expected review date offers an opportunity to discuss and resolve issues. It also leaves the door open to ending the relationship if it just doesn't seem to be a good match.
  • Discuss how to handle special requests. For example, your employer might occasionally want to change the normal routine and ask you to take care of a special project (windows, rugs, laundry, etc). Are you okay doing this on the fly, or would it be better to receive the request with a week's notice? Setting a policy for this beforehand will remove last-minute panic and disappointment, if, for example, you have another job and will be unable to stay longer to fulfill the special request.
  • Ask if there are any special items with which you should take extra care, that are of sentimental or monetary value. Also, ask your employer about areas to "watch out" for in the home -- for example, are the mini blinds fragile and must be opened with care while cleaning? Also, ask if there are areas of the home that should not be cleaned or that the employer might like to be off limits. Be clear about what these limits are and how they impact your cleaning service.
  • Establish a policy for cancellations. If you become ill or if you have a sudden change in schedule, decide beforehand how you will handle such changes, how you will contact each other, and what will be done to reschedule a missed cleaning appointment.
  • Remember to be extra careful if you move an item from it's normal place during cleaning. You may forget to replace it and this may cause your employer to assume that the item is broken or missing. Be up front if you do break something by accident. Honesty is the best policy.
  • Finally, be kind and respectful, and expect the same from your employer.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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