10 Signs Your Household Staff Needs Training


Published on June 30, 2016

Is Your Domestic Staff Ready for Training?

A good household relies on the backbone and ‘spine’ that supports the bricks.  Without the spine of the house, the house will collapse, fall into ruin and disarray.  We are talking about the staff that work day in and day out to tirelessly maintain and care for your estate.

In life, when we want to protect the spine we look to stay fit, eat well and ensure that the exercise we do is regular to reduce the fat content and build our core.  Our core strength will ultimately protect the spine and make sure that into our 90s we are fit and healthy.  The same is true for a house.

If it is underused or not properly ‘exercised’ the house will begin to suffer.  Therefore it’s imperative that the team that works in the house are exercised correctly, and their skills and their approach is finely tuned as the years go by.

To keep your house healthy and get the best out of your staff you may want to consider domestic staff training. Here are the 10 signs that your household staff need training.

1. Lack of motivation

A good team of staff need focus and motivation. Regardless of the targets and incentives (bonuses) that are put in place, a team of staff need to feel that they are working towards an end goal.

Lack of motivation can often come down to understanding why a specific task is done.  For example, why do the bed sheets need to be changed daily when the principal is traveling for three months and the bed is not being used?  It may take some explanation, but once the staff member understands the reason behind the task, it will no longer seem pointless and their personal motivation will improve.

By inviting a domestic staff trainer into your household, he or she can give these solutions to the staff whom otherwise might have not had the initiative to ask, or the foresight to understand.

2. Timekeeping

Do you notice that staff (those that live out of the property and grounds) are sometimes late?  When confronted with this timekeeping issue does it make a difference?

Perhaps tasks within the house are taking longer to be done than you believe are necessary and you want to speed the productivity of the staff up.  Timekeeping is often a simple fix.

From our experience organisation is the key to ensuring correct timekeeping, both with being on time for work and also making sure tasks and duties are done in the most efficient way.  A domestic staff trainer can help organise and complete schedules and ‘flow’ for the house, to ensure that the timekeeping is the most efficient it can be.

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is the most common request when staff are hired. Have you noticed a decrease in flexibility or a sub-par performance on time sensitive tasks? The difference between good and great staff in a family home will be their ability to be flexible and adjust to difference schedules and requests.

Many domestic staff find last minute requests increase stress levels and don’t complete the required task at the highest level, but flexibility can actually be taught.  A good trainer conducting domestic staff training will give the staff tools and tips so they can handle the stress level and be better at completing their assignments.

This is a win-win as staff reduce their own stress and perform better, giving the principal and their home more flexibility and better results.

4. Initiative

Along with flexibility, initiative is the second most commonly requested skill in a domestic staff.

Are your staff making the extra effort or just meeting the bare minimum? For example, if all the duties have been completed and the Housekeeper has an hour to spare, instead of clocking off early, she could empty the fridge and freezer and give it a deep clean.  Initiative is linked to confidence.

A confident member of staff will take the initiative to make choices and decisions on their own, knowing that as long as their tasks have all been completed and that the new task they are about to complete won’t interfere with any of the other household staff, their initiative will be well rewarded.

Domestic staff training programmes will help build and teach confidence, which results in more initiative, teamwork, and a properly cared for household.

5. Hierarchy

Depending on the size of the household, the staff hierarchy play an important role and teams of staff can often fall short in this area. If you’re experiencing inter household staff conflicts it’s likely a result of broken hierarchy. A broken hierarchy within a family home will cause disruption amongst the staff, and lead to unhappiness and low productivity.

No one role is more important than the other; all the roles together support and compliment the household. Ensuring the staff understand this is critical to a smoothly run household. Conducting domestic staff training in your private residence will consider the hierarchy of the staff and look to clarify and outline the roles for each staff member.

6. Etiquette

An extremely important aspect to any household staff, the etiquette and understanding is linked with the staff hierarchy and productivity. The Estate Manager through to the Housekeeper must understand correct etiquette for the principal, their family, their guests. If you’ve had an issue with etiquette you’re likely already aware there is an issue.

The incorrect understanding of etiquette can lead to embarrassing situations which reflect poorly on both the staff, the house, and the principal. Poor etiquette will lead to staff being dismissed, so it is vital that it is taught and understood to a very high level.

7. Formality

Depending on how the household is run, staff may or may not understand the level of formality (or informality) that is required.  This is often linked to etiquette but has a place of understanding in its own right.

All staff should have a clear and deep understanding of how formality should be approached and what is appropriate or not in the principals home.  It may be that when the principal is in residence he prefers the staff to dress casually in polo shirts and jeans, but if he has guests or visitors he prefers a smart uniform/black tie.

The staff should understand why the principal has this approach and then be taught how to understand and read the situation in order to respond.  A good domestic house training programme will ensure that the staff understand formality and when it is appropriate to address the principal, or when they should wait until a different moment. Domestic house training helps bridge the gap between informal and formal, and ensures that the principals home and guests are always given the best impression.

8. Focus

If things just aren’t looking as sharp as they used to, it’s likely from a lack of focus which can happen over time as staff get into a normal routine. Lack of focus can stem from a number of issues within the household, including confidence, miscommunication about responsibilities, and organisation.

Domestic staff training should take into account that each member of staff is unique and each person can have good days and bad days. However, if there is a general trend of lack of focus it may be that there are more serious issues in place.  By inviting a domestic staff trainer into the property, it will give a safe space for the members of staff to ask questions and reveal information they might not otherwise wish to reveal to their employer and can be the deciding factor in a member of staff turning the corner to excellence or leaving the position.

9. Skills

Your team of staff may already work well together as a team, or individually, but they might be lacking in specific skills. For example, your chef might not be trained in silver service and there is a need for him to both present and serve the dinner and meals he has prepared.  Your housekeeper may be well versed with laundry, but might not understand wardrobe management.  Whatever the specific skills you feel are lacking or could be improved, domestic staff training will help give fundamental skills and tips to the staff to ensure they have the correct understanding and practical application of the skills required.

10. Finishing Touches

It’s the finishing touches which are often forgotten. If one or more of your staff are rushing through their duties and they forget to go the extra mile you’ll notice the decline in quality.

Little touches like the toilet roll paper being beautifully folded at the end or the preferred bottle of water left by the bedside table are finishing touches that make a home a luxury home.  Great staff should understand these finishing touches and a great domestic staff training programme will encourage each member of staff to develop and fine tune their own finishing touches.


Have any of these points resounded with you?  Perhaps you’d like to know more about domestic staff training and how Polo & Tweed could help your existing staff in your home?  We’d love to hear from you, either to offer advice or to help book the perfect domestic staff training programme for you.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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