Partner Content

What are some best practices for hiring and retaining domestic staff?

What are some best practices for hiring and retaining domestic staff? © FotoDuets via iStock

Work in the home constitutes a fundamentally different environment from work in a business setting. The hours can be long and unpredictable, with unclear paths for advancement; and many positions offer few, if any, benefits. Overall, domestic work lacks status in the eyes of young Americans. So, as a result, finding quality candidates with the skills and dedication to become productive, long-term employees can be difficult.

The first steps in running an orderly home are to clearly define and describe the help you need: Define the tasks you need done. Determine the number of hours required. Define the skills needed. Assign the proper job title to the skill sets.

Take the time to write formal job descriptions for all household positions. This helps your staffing agency find the right people and gives your employees a clear set of expectations against which you can measure performance.

What role do you want to play in running your own home or homes? If you don’t want to be a hands-on manager,you may want to consider hiring a household advisor to help assess your needs and put a professional plan in place. This advisor can provide supplemental expertise in areas like staffing, payroll and compliance with labor laws.


Do not rush the hiring process. It can take several months for you or your agency to find the right candidates, perform background checks, assess qualifications and determine compatibility with household members.

With the systematic application of sensible policies, you will attract and retain a first-rate staff.

Step One: The Paper Cut. Review résumés for skills and for a good record of sustained employment. Be wary of those who have switched frequently or have worked only in corporate settings.

Step Two: The Personal Interview. This provides an opportunity to verify information on a résumé, in person, and to determine cultural fit. Also, be sure to gather references you can call for verification.

Step Three: Skill Testing. Ask very specific questions and don’t be shy about asking candidates to demonstrate skills.

Step Four: Personality Assessment. Not everyone will be a good fit for you, regardless of his or her skills. A formal personality test can help provide insight into a candidate’s suitability for a position in your home.

Step Five: Verification. Contact many references before extending an offer—the more the better. You should also have a firm conduct formal background checks on finalist candidates.


Even the most qualified hires will need to learn the specifics of a new job so make sure they know it’s all right to ask questions. If you have very specific requirements, write them down and go over them, point by point. You may want to consider additional formal training depending on your situation. CPR and first-aid classes are also a worthy consideration. Like a well-run business, a well-run household continues to enhance the talents of employees.

Give new hires evaluations after 30 and 90 days, and keep the lines of communication open. Performance reviews should be dialogues, not lectures. After an employee has settled in, compile written evaluations once a year in a neutral location away from children so your employee is able to fully participate.

Compensation is beyond the scope of this writing, but you will likely need to work with someone well versed in employment law in this situation. While you should speak with your legal and tax advisors about this topic, it’s imperative that you understand your obligations and follow both the spirit and letter of the law. With the systematic application of sensible policies, you will attract and retain a first-rate staff. ●

Marie A. Moore is a Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management division of Morgan Stanley in Dallas, Texas. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engage Worth to feature this profile. Marie A. Moore may only transact business in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from registration, Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Marie A. Moore is not registered or excluded or exempt from registration. The strategies and/ or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the US. CRC 1455288 06/16
This article was originally published in the October/November 2016 issue of Worth.

Business Ownership

Disclaimer: Worth magazine is a financial publisher and does not recommend or endorse investment, legal, insurance or tax advisors. The listing of any firm in the 2023 Worth® Leading AdvisorsTM Program does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by Worth magazine of any such firm and is not based upon Worth magazine’s experience with, or prior dealings with, any advisor. The information presented for each advisor, including but not limited to any related profile, statistical data, presentation, report, commentary, recommendation or strategy, has been provided by such advisor without review or independent verification by Worth magazine. Any such information is the sole responsibility of the advisor. Worth magazine makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of such information, assumes no liability for any inaccuracies or omissions therein and disclaims responsibility for the suitability of any particular investment recommendation or strategy for any person. Nothing contained in Worth magazine constitutes or should be construed as any form of investment, legal, insurance or tax advice or as a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or trade any securities, financial instruments or assets. Readers are advised to consult their legal, financial, insurance and tax advisors prior to making any investment or pursuing any investment strategy. Past, model or hypothetical performance is not indicative of future results.

back to top