At the upper end of assets and incomes are multiple and beautiful homes, fast changing schedules, a desire for the most elegant and effortless lifestyle, and either a high or low public profile. High net worth families and individuals need to hire household staff to keep up the residences, cook and serve, drive, help with the kids, etc. Housekeepers, butlers, chefs, chauffeurs, personal assistants, nannies, and estate managers are the norm for the 1%. Often, a difficult decision is deciding how many staff you will need. Multiple residences, seasonal living, and travel complicate staffing considerations. Formulas even exist to calculate the right number and level of staff based upon square footage, style of service, art and valuables, time in-residence, etc. Do you need someone who can optimize your wardrobe and closet, knows how to work your home’s new technology, lives-in or out, or can serve to a formal style or an outdoor BBQ? Chemistry and fit between you and your team are a critical determinate of long-term success. What are the best practices to obtain and manage your staff to achieve your lifestyle goals and protect you, your family, and your business interests?
Employing and managing staff is very different from the days of obtaining your “help” from friendly referrals and ads in the paper. At Angela Mortimer Ltd., we coined the term “private staff” to reflect today’s proper and most satisfying way of employing and enjoying the services of personal service staff. Staffing today needs to be considered more like employees for a business. Yes, your personal team is closer to you, your spouse, and possibly your children than an office worker, but the structure, which ensures a safe and harmonious household, is much the same.
Private Staff refers to your personal service workers that have all been screened, gone through reference, background, and credit checks, and have signed employment and confidentiality agreements. The goal is to protect your safety and security by having a structure in place and being in compliance with employment regulations. Private staff is paid “on the books” in compliance with IRS and immigration I-9 regulations. Cash payments may still be the norm for maids who work a couple days a week, but being compliant with employment and tax laws for full time staff is a must. A vocal disgruntled ex-employee or the IRS looking to make an example of a prominent person (Google “Nannygate”) is not worth the marginal cost of being in compliance. Hiring new employees always starts on a high note with enthusiasm and pleasant hopes. The private staffing process prepares both parties for a worst-case scenario – termination. Private staff is hired and managed by checking off each of these boxes:
• Create a job description and compensation/benefits plan
• An interview process or trial which asks the right questions: Assessing chemistry and fit, Verifying skills and talents
• Background checks – credit, criminal, driving, education: Reference checks
• An employment agreement or manual that spells out hours, responsibilities, severance policy, security procedures, etc.
• Confidentiality agreement
• A management and review process to raise productivity
• Payroll with proper deductions and IRS reporting
• Cyber and cell phone (video) security
• Review of home and valuables insurance
Working with a Private Staff
Private staff work with a high degree of security and trust for the family, business, or prominent individual. The employee and/or the team functions at a more productive level and because they are each well aware of expectations and rewards, receive regular communication of their performance and have a higher level of personal satisfaction which results in longer tenure and a happier workplace or home environment. The employer has “piece of mind” resulting from protecting assets, confidentiality, and reputation, and being in compliance with applicable laws. Private staff is solution oriented – achieving your service goals, elevating your lifestyle and professional stature, and decreasing risks.
Hiring Private Staff
Job design, recruitment, hiring, and management of staff each require a process, some research and, possibly, professional advice. Whether you are looking for the ultimate in lifestyle enhancement or a simple cleaning service, a happy team gets the job done. A house will function more smoothly when specific expectations are laid out. The Internet has introduced a new window of visibility, risks, information, and benefits to private staff employment. Following a process starting with your idea of what a successful hire looks and feels like results in a satisfying experience for all parties and a smart value for your investment. Our lives are more complex and moving faster than ever, but a competent private staff will deliver peace of mind, more focus on your priorities, and a higher level of enjoyment of your valued pursuits, friends, and family.
By Stephen Candland of private staffing agency, Angela Mortimer US