I believe that improving the retention rates of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) is both a science and an art (Various reasons for employment agencies to increase costs, June 30).
Most trustworthy and conscientious employment agencies should be able to fulfil the “science” part of matching a potential employer’s job description with an MDW’s past working experience and training, as well as completing the required documentation without too much difficulty.
However, it could be a challenge to match the personalities and temperaments of the employer and MDW, which are the factors that would help to foster a good working relationship between them, and thus perhaps improve retention rates.
The onus is on the employer, as the dominant party in such a relationship, to fulfil the “art” part, by initiating and trying to develop a cordial working relationship with the maid at the outset.
First, he must have the maid’s welfare at heart by ensuring that she has enough rest and sufficient food, and by treating her as a part of the family.
Instead of limiting his communication to giving instructions and reprimanding her for any mistakes made, he should regularly chit-chat with her to build rapport.
He should also send his regards to her family members back home occasionally, especially when they are unwell, to show his concern.
It would be good when buying snacks like curry puffs and pastries for the family, to get one for the maid as well, to reinforce the notion that she is a part of the family.
The above pointers are non-exhaustive.
An MDW would likely reciprocate positively, sometimes even to the extent of risking her own life to protect someone under her charge from danger, when she feels that she is being treated well and fairly.
The bottom line is that no employer or maid is perfect, but when a good working relationship is in place, together with some patience, understanding and a sense of give and take on both sides, it is not impossible to reach a win-win situation in which the employer would enjoy the maid’s services while her financial needs are fulfilled by the employer.
Ng Chee Kheon