Create an Employee Handbook for Your Private Staff

Whether you’re hiring for the estate or searching for someone to help you in your day to day, an employee manual or handbook gives your private staff a detailed overview of your rules, policies, guidelines, or procedures. Your goal should be to set the right expectations and, at the same time, state all your legal obligations to them. Note, that an employee manual is not the same thing as an employment contract.

Having an employee handbook helps to facilitate smoother onboarding, making it easy to welcome new staff members to the team. Furthermore, a set of guidelines also clearly outlines your expectations as an employer or staff manager, who may have several individuals under their purview.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to craft an employee manual for the team managing your personal and household affairs.

Values and Mission Statement

Your values and mission statement explains, in simple terms, your purpose for hiring your employees. And in the wake of a pandemic, making sure that you are 100% aligned with your existing and potential staff is critical. What are you trying to achieve, and how can your private staff help?

You need to effectively communicate these expectations with your staff to really get the right message across. Ensure that they know why you are hiring them and what your objectives are as an individual, an employer, and a homeowner.

A short paragraph defining your personal business and expectations would suffice as a brief character reference, offering some insight into who you are as an employer. Be as specific as you can and write it concisely, so your employees know what you are trying to convey to them.

Employee Compensations and Benefits

First and foremost, outline how your employees will be compensated, whether that’s a monthly wire or a weekly check. If you are offering other perks or incentives to your private staff, then this information should be clearly spelled out in your employee manual. You’ll want to include everything that covers employee benefits or rewards.

Clearly outline how much they are paid per hour and if they will be paid for overtime hours or when they work during holidays. Your private staff may also expect some benefits, so ensure that you outline this, in detail.

Benefits can include health insurance, parking spaces, sick leaves, 401k, dental benefits, meals, and beverages provided, lockers and personal storage areas, etc.

Code of Conduct

A code of conduct is a set of rules that tells your private staff how they should behave during work hours. You can include cellphone usage, dress code, smoking policy, etc.

For household rules, you can talk about who opens mails or accepts packages, how family members are addressed or contacted, rules of driving a family car, how guests are addressed and greeted, when to notify family members, or who to call for emergency issues.

For the code of conduct, your staff must understand it in its entirety. Be as detailed and as specific as possible.

Social Media and Digital Conduct

Digital conduct is a set of rules that pertains to an employee’s behavior online. You need to be specific with what is allowed and what is not when it comes to social media or other online-related activities.

Are your employees allowed to talk about their work on their social media channels? What about taking photos in your homes or with family members? Are they allowed to go online during work hours? Can your employees talk about your business?

You need to be very specific about this and ensure that your employees understand these home security guidelines.

Workplace Safety

In case of an emergency, who does your staff need to contact? Are there any allergies that you or your family members or guests have that your staff needs to be aware of? Are there any restricted areas in your home? These are just a few considerations that need to be met in your employee handbook.

While this all depends on what role your staff is filling, it’s still important to have it as a reference. Here, you’ll want to get in as much detail as possible, from dietary restrictions and medication regimens to safety procedures both in-person and online. Write about any guidelines or considerations you’ll need your staff to know.

You should also point out where the first aid kits are and the location of the fire extinguisher.

Duties, Work Hours, and Leave Policy

In your employee handbook, talk about the specific duties that your private staff is required to do. You may want to have a digital calendar shared with your staff members so that you’re always aligned.

How many hours are they required to work? What time should they take breaks, and how many minutes? Do they get paid on sick leaves? What about their vacation leaves – how many days are you giving them annually. If you’re not sure about the minimum wage or how many PTO do you need to offer to your private staff, you can always speak with a professional for assistance.

The goal is—your employees must understand, without question, their duties and responsibilities and what’s expected of them.

Termination

Outline the reasons why your employees may be terminated at work. You can write about a list of violations that may warrant a termination. Also, include a plan or checklist about what a certain employee would do if they are terminated. Do they need to return their uniforms or devices that were provided to them?

You need to also talk about their final wage when they are terminated. Will they be paid in full? What about deductions? Speak with a professional to ensure that you’re doing the right thing.

Conflicts of Interest

Depending on the nature of work, you may ask your private staff to sign a non-disclosure agreement and how to deal with them.

Writing the Handbook

When crafting your employee manual, make sure that you’re familiar with the applicable laws. For example, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are required to pay the minimum wage to all employees, including compensation for their overtime hours when they work for more than 40 hours a week. Your employees should be paid for every hour over 40. Also, you need to know whether your state’s employment laws require you to pay for breaks or meal times of your employees. Consult a professional when there are unusual work circumstances.

For your taxes, it would depend on the total amount of wages that you pay to a certain employee on an annual basis. You must check your state regulations to determine whether you need to withhold state income tax or settle for disability, unemployment or worker’s compensation insurance. Find out if you need to pay social security and Medicare taxes or pay federal unemployment tax. You can always use a payroll service to make this effortless for you.

Things to keep in mind:

Your employee manual should be readable, clear, simple, yet concise. It has to be accessible to everyone. If possible, hire someone who can discuss your employee manual, in detail, with the new hires.

Ask each employee to sign their handbook to ensure that they have fully read and understood them.

Contact Private Staff Group if You Need More Help

We are a recruitment agency committed to helping prominent individuals like yourself. Our team of experts specializes in sourcing strategy, hiring staff, staff onboarding, tax compliances, training staff, and even writing compelling job descriptions. Get in touch with us today!

How to Hire Staff for Your Remote Property

The hiring process is one that takes time and is something that the hiring manager wants to make sure they are doing their due diligence with. As someone that is hiring people you never want to rush into a decision of whom you want to hire. Doing so could be catastrophic and can bring on more trouble.

When you are doing some hiring it is essential to ensure you are putting forth the best efforts. You have to make sure that the team you put in place is one that will do their best and work at their highest capacity, whether you’re around the corner or on the other side of the world.

When you own several homes, it comes as no surprise that you can’t physically be in both places at once. That said, you don’t want to be in a position where the home you are away from is being neglected. And wherever you’re coming from, when you walk through your front door, you don’t want to be welcomed by dust.

Having private staff on retainer for your remote home—or at least an estate manager who can contract services to meet your home’s needs—is essential to maintaining property value, ensuring year-round security, and giving you one less thing to worry about.

Being able to leave with the peace of mind that your family’s safe space is taken care of is 100% dependent on the quality of your staff. The team you have in place needs to be reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. They need to be professionals you can count on to ensure everything is just how you like it to be, especially when you’re away.

To accomplish this, we’ve got a few hiring tips for how to recruit and manage staff, from finding the right fit to some insight into the process, here’s what you need to know:

Finding the Right Candidates for Your Remote Home

Have a clear idea of what you need.

When you are looking for your remote home to be taken care of, identify what will need ongoing maintenance versus sporadic check-ins.

Doing this will show you specifics on things you may not have thought to have in your job posting, which may include experience with the tools and platforms, as well as sensitivity toward your security and confidentiality expectations.

With this accomplished, you’ll be able to narrow your list or better vette the candidates who do apply.

Look in the right places for talent.

There are many websites that are dedicated to helping employers find the right candidates and also help those seeking employment see areas that are all hiring for specific positions they are seeking.

Looking in the best place will help narrow down potential employees in specific areas, including:

  • level of experience
  • primary languages
  • profile keywords

Leveraging these resources also helps you understand what roles are out there, and which one might be best suited for your hiring needs.

Do some research.

Check for business accolades as well as credentials—and don’t forget to run a background check. Doing a keyword search will help to find those with some of the same wording you will be looking for or that you will use in the hiring process. That will help speed along the search for those that are truly interested.

Most importantly, it’s important to know what to look for in a background check.

Have a plan.

Put in place a strategy for holding remote interviews. You want to have a list of questions that are well-rounded that will allow you to see the personality of the interviewee, their background, and the skills they have.

You also want to keep this in mind; when you are hiring staff for your remote property, you want to get the best look and feel for who they are so having questions in place that will let you see all of these things is essential in getting the staff you desire.

Managing Your Remote Staff

Once you’ve chosen the best candidates and have hired a reliable staff, you’ll want to set up a way to communicate expectations, requests, and updates.

Maintaining your remote home is a task that can be done with ease when you have processes in place. Here are some tips to ensure you’re in the best position to manage staff on your remote properties:

Outline your expectations.

Set the expectations you have for your staff immediately and clearly.

One big way to manage the staff at your remote home is making sure the staff members know exactly what you expect from them. You want to let them know how often they should check in with you, if you desire for them to check-in prior to the end of their workday every day or on a weekly basis, and how they should track their time.

Communicating what you want from your staff upfront will allow them to be in the know but also bring synchronization between all of you.

Put it in writing.

Put your communication strategy in writing. Having what you expect from your staff as a whole and also individually is important in the communication process. This is vital in your communication process and your staff will have something to look to as a reference.

Putting together a handbook is also a good place to give details about responsiveness, timing, and other essentials you want to stand out.

Encourage communication.

Keep in contact as much as possible. Have consistent times where you are communicating with your staff but make sure you have a way to always get in touch.

You can engage through phone calls, email, instant messaging, and especially video chat. Your staff is an investment in your lifestyle and encouraging good performance and collaborative communication will not only build rapport but loyalty, and will minimize turnover rate.

Be transparent with your staff.

You will be viewed as their leader and with that power comes significant responsibility. Set an example through diligence, compassion, and consistency.

You will, of course, want your staff to be professional while working in your remote home so you should always be open and honest with them. This will build a great team culture and will give you the confidence of knowing your staff will work well while you are away.

Consult with Private Staff Group

You want to make sure you are doing all you can to ensure you have a great staff that will work well with you and for you. We here at Private Staff Group have all the tools in place to help you get the best private staff you need to ensure your remote home is well taken care of.

You don’t want to have your home in a state that you aren’t pleased with and we don’t want that for you. Allow us to help you get the right staff in place, so you can rest assured that your home away from home is always the way you want it to be!

Is Your Pool or Spa Getting Enough Care?

Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get your pool and spa in tip-top shape.

How do you get your pool and spa ready for summer swim parties and backyard barbeques? We’re going to break down the regular maintenance your pool and spa need all year long.

We’ll also give you tips for getting your pool ready for the summer and whether or not a professional pool service is right for you. Let’s dive into our top pool and spa tips.

How to Take Care of Your Pool

Your pool needs regular maintenance in the following areas:

  • Pool water and chemical balance
  • Pool interior
  • Pool filter system
  • Skimmers and returns

First, it’s important to keep your pool water clear, clean, and chemically balanced. You should run your pool pump for eight to twelve hours a day. Circulating the water will keep it free from contaminants and bacteria growth. It will also keep all the chemicals properly mixed.

Speaking of chemicals, let’s talk about how to maintain your pool’s water chemistry.

Water Chemistry Maintenance

You should clean your pool and add a shock treatment once a week. As the summer gets closer, start testing your water once a week. You can get a simple pH test that will tell you how acidic levels of your pool water.

Ideally, the pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6 for the water to stay clear and not irritate your eyes. If the level is too high or low, use a pH decreaser or increase to adjust it.

Next, check your pool’s sanitation levels. How you do this will depend on whether you have a chlorine or saltwater pool. If you have chlorine, which is more popular, the levels should be between one and four parts per million.

If the chlorine is too low, you can add more. If it’s on the high side, the sun will burn it off. Shocking your pool will also help get rid of the chlorine smell.

Add pool shock weekly before the summertime hits. When you start using your pool more, shock it before and after big pool parties. You can also shock it after rain or a storm to make the water clear again.

Finally, you should add an algaecide to your pool water weekly. This will slow down the growth of pool and bacteria, which is important for keeping your pool interior in good shape. Let’s look at the other things you need to do to maintain your pool’s interior.

Pool Interior Maintenance

To maintain your pool’s interior, it needs to be regularly cleaned. If you let your cleaning routine slide during the off-season, now is the time to give it a deep clean so it’s ready for summer.

Clear away any algae, mold, or debris. Start by cleaning out debris with a neck, then vacuum the entire surface of the pool. Pay special attention to areas that don’t have great circulation since they are more at risk for algae build-up.

Before summertime, you should also repair any damaged pool tiles that could cut someone’s skin.

Pool Filter System Maintenance

Maintaining your pool’s filter system is a crucial part of keeping your pool clean and healthy. Without it, your pool water will quickly fill up with pollution that isn’t safe to swim in.

There are several different types of pool filters, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain yours. However, all pool filters need to be regularly back washed to get rid of the collected debris.

After you backwash the filter, run it for a few minutes, and then rinse it before you resume regular filtering. You should frequently check the filter’s PSI reading to know when it needs to be cleaned again. Check it more often in the summer when you’re using the pool more.

Skimmers and Return Maintenance

Skimmers are responsible for pulling water into the filter, while returns send the clean water back into the pool. They need to be kept clear to work properly. If they’re clogged, the whole pool’s filter system won’t function.

During your weekly pool maintenance, check the skimmers and returns for any obstructions. Clear out all debris and clean off any algae that could stop them from working.

 

How to Take Care of Your Spa

Maintaining your spa is similar to your pool upkeep. It needs to be cleaned weekly, so you can do it on the same day you clean your pool. You could also use our service to find the best caretaker or property manager to get on top of your aquatic obligations.

A big part of keeping your spa clean is circulating the water. Hopefully, your spa has an automatic system that circulates the water twice a day. If not, you need to manually turn it on for 15 minutes twice a day.

To clean your spa, you can use a sponge and white vinegar to wipe down the jets, shell, and water line. Before your first big summer party, you should also drain your hot tub to completely refresh the water.

Spa Filter and Water Maintenance

To keep your filters working properly for a long time, clean them with a filter cleaner every week. Afterward, rinse them off with warm water from a hose. Rinse them often during the summer.

Keeping your spa’s water balanced is the same process as your pool. The water needs to be pH tested, sanitized, shocked, and adjusted as needed before summer hits. You should test it once a week to see what it needs.

Should You Hire Trained Pool Cleaners?

As you can see, maintaining your pool and spa isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming. Plus, it’s important to be exact to keep the water safe and your backyard oasis looking beautiful. If you want to make sure the job is done right, ensure your staff is trained to keep your pool/spa running smoothly.

Pool cleaners or a service can come every week to confirm, but with trained personnel, you can trust the job will be done right, regularly, and with your privacy a priority.

At Private Staff Group, we can help you find the best staff to service your pool and spa. Click here to request a consultation and get started today.

Hiring Private or Household Staff in the Wake of a Pandemic

When news of COVID-19 spread and countries around the world entered lockdown it almost felt like everything stopped. People stopped going to the office, kids stopped going to school, and people put a halt to most of their plans around travel or being social.

The outside world may be at a standstill, but the inside world of your homes is busier and more vibrant than ever. Having household staff you can rely on is important at any time, but it’s especially important when we’re in a pandemic.

Remember, vaccine availability and lessening restrictions don’t mean that you’re safe from COVID. That’s why we’re here to give you the insight you need to find the right staff.

Are you thinking about hiring professional staff? Keep reading if you’re ready to learn how to bring on the right staff to manage your homes during these trying times.

Understand Who You Need

Before you start looking for new staff to bring on (or thinking about who to let go), consider what services are essential for your properties going forward.

You know that your chief of staff is indispensable, but could you do without your estate manager? You don’t think you need your butler at certain properties. However, you’re on the fence about how much you’ll be using your driver.

It’s possible that you may not need to have as many cooks on staff because you won’t be hosting large events, but you may still want to keep your head chef for more intimate affairs. Some people may have never considered having a private chef on the grounds, but now that catering could be dangerous, you may feel safer with having someone you can trust prepare your food.

Take time to look at what’s coming up on your personal calendar, and be sure to pay close attention to quarantine restrictions in your area. Having insight into both matters can make it easier to determine what you need.

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Understand Your Comfort Levels

Do you only want to bring in staff that has received the COVID-19 vaccine? Would you be comfortable bringing in someone that has had COVID-19 in the past, but has since recovered? Do you want your staff to change into their uniforms on the premises or bathe then change to ensure they aren’t bringing in germs?

You’re the boss when it comes to your private staff, and now isn’t the time to be lax about setting boundaries. Take time to really think about what you and your family will need to stay safe and work with your staff effectively.

Some people feel safer making temperature checks mandatory before people can report to work. Others may consider setting up hand sanitizing and mask disinfecting stations in each room staff to ensure maximum safety.

Alter Your Interviewing Process

Hiring someone to attend to your personal properties and help you and your family isn’t a simple process. Extensive background checks need to be performed, multiple interviews need to be held, and you need to find a way to test their skills.

Unfortunately, COVID has made it difficult to perform some of your usual hiring activities. Luckily for you, there are plenty of ways to still properly screen people to add to your domestic staff.

Moving to a hybrid interview format can help save you time and help keep everyone safe. Consider holding some preliminary interviews over video calls instead of doing them by phone. When you add the camera element you can learn a lot about potential hires from their body language instead of having to go only by tone.

It’s only natural to want to have one in-person interview so you can test their skills and see how well they’d interact with you and the rest of the staff. We recommend trying to keep people as far apart as possible. Choose a very large room so people can meet comfortably, or consider setting up different areas to keep people separate.

You may find that there are some skill tests that you don’t need to be present for. It’s possible to closely inspect a potential laundress’s washing work and ironing skills once they’ve finished, and you can easily eat food prepared by a chef without being there to watch them prepare it. Consider having someone else supervise the tests and coming in after to inspect everything.

Consider Creating a Staff Bubble

You’ve heard a lot about the importance of social distancing and only being close to people that don’t have a lot of interactions in the outside world. That can be easy enough for the family, but things get tricky when it comes to private staff.

What happens if a staff member goes out over the weekend and brings COVID with them to work on Monday? Would you be comfortable having staff in your homes that are in group living situations or have to use public transit to get to work?

For the time being, you may want to consider only hiring people that are comfortable staying on the grounds while they work. You could come up with a schedule so that employees have plenty of time to quarantine before they come into work if you’re concerned about spreading the virus.

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Find Household Staff the Safe Way

Instead of leaving the safety of your family and in the hands of others, consider working with a professional staffing service that can get you the help you need.

Working with a private staffing company is more important than ever now. We won’t just help you find professionals that can meet your rigorous standards for security and safety. We’ll help you find people that take COVID-19 as seriously as you do and keep your family’s well being top of mind.

Are you ready to find the help you need? Contact us today so we can start finding the best way to meet all of your private staffing needs.

Butler, Estate Manager, Majordomo: The Right Staff for Your Household

Butlers — they’re a pop-culture staple. They feature in many famous books, movies, and TV shows, usually as a staple of an upper-class, or old-school household.

But in modern-day society, what is a butler?

Butler’s certainly aren’t as popular used to be. As short as a hundred years ago, it was common for the upper-middle and upper-class to have staff on hand that would complete various tasks for them.

Now a large portion of the workforce has been deputized to the outside of the home: the new “servant” class consists of people like waiters, baristas, and clerks, and caterers. But many of the more well-to-do have gravitated back towards hiring butlers—and other types of household staff—again.

If you’re someone who’s considered hiring a butler, estate manager, or majordomo, you’ve come to the right place. This article will walk you through all you need to know.

What Is a Butler?

A butler is a household servant—usually a male—who’s responsible for the upkeep and presentation of certain rooms in a house, or the entire house. A butler acts as the leader of the house staff but also performs many services himself.

The butler doesn’t just see to these observations but provides a pleasant experience for those who come to the house. There is an element of theatricality to the butler’s job. The butler is generally responsible for presenting a formal appearance, knowing the etiquette, protocol, and manners, and providing knowledge on various foods and wines.

Sometimes, in this day and age, a butler will work as a chauffeur. They receive and take care of guests, and organize any function where guests are involved. They also take care of more day-to-day tasks, such as the writing of manuals, the maintenance of fine silverware, furniture, and vehicles, and hiring outside contractors.

Butler’s don’t just provide these practical benefits, however. A good butler is trained in discretion and can operate as a confidante. They also generally know a great deal about telephone etiquette and will help you cut a more formal, graceful figure to anyone who calls.

Butlers are trained by various organizations to adapt to the needs of the individuals they are serving. The longer you have your butler with you, the more you’ll notice your life improving. They’ll do their job better and better as they learn the preferences and tastes of the different members of the household.

What Are the Differences Between a Butler, Estate Manager, and Majordomo?

Butlers are perhaps the most recognizable members of household staff, but they certainly aren’t the only option for helping to manage the household. Let’s take a look at two of the other types of staff you might consider hiring: a Majordomo and an Estate Manager.

Majordomo

First of all, it’s important to note that majordomo is a somewhat nebulous term. Sometimes the term “majordomo” is used interchangeably with butler, and sometimes it isn’t.

When it isn’t, it’s usually referring to a position that’s higher up than a butler. In very large houses where there are multiple butlers, each one will likely be in charge of a different area of the house. The majordomo acts as the “head butler”, responsible for overseeing the whole house.

A house servant is more likely to be called a majordomo if several people are working for that house. A lone butler in a house will almost definitely be referred to as a “butler” but a butler who’s leading a staff of house servants might be called a “majordomo”.

Estate Manager

The specialty of butler and majordomo is knowledge of a wealthy person’s house. They’re responsible for the upkeep of the house, the receiving of guests, and organizing house-related affairs. However, some people own more than one house on their estate—or across the world—in which case, having someone keep things in order while the owners are away is critical for their peace of mind as well as maintaining the value of the property.

The person who oversees the whole estate is the “estate manager”. In a system with multiple houses, more complex policies are required—an estate manager handles these policies and enforces them.

They manage many purchases for an employee, to greatly speed up the process of acquiring additions to the house. Because of this, they have to have a working knowledge of business and a strong grasp of finance.

Many estate managers also assist employers in aspects of their businesses.

Is Household Staff Right For Me?

Your home is more than just your place of residence. It’s a statement, a symbol of your accomplishments and a facilitation for your lifestyle. Upholding order and value in one household, let alone multiple, remote properties, is a challenge that requires the right team to address. Delegating that work to the experts leaves you with more time for your important job, and more time for you to enjoy your leisure.

Our team focuses on the individual needs of each home and determines the perfect candidates for you. We offer you several options, so you can pick the staff that you think you’ll bond with the best. Our founder works with each client to make sure that the client’s satisfaction is ensured.

In addition to butlers, majordomos, and estate managers, we offer many other types of staff for you to choose from. Consider hiring a caretaker for services on your landscaping and pools, a laundress for specific laundry services, or a personal assistant, for day-to-day needs.

Hire House Staff

Many people these days find themselves asking—what is a butler? Butlers aren’t quite as popular as they used to be. However, they’re still a wonderful option for anyone looking to bring a level of dignity, formality, and respect to their house.

Once you consider what a butler is, the difference between a butler, majordomo, and estate manager, and find yourself a good service, you’re well on your way to hiring the housing staff of your dreams.

For more information, contact us today.

How to Hire a Personal Assistant During COVID-19

Wealthy seniors and baby boomers are choosing a new type of Personal Assistant/Companion. This is in part due to Covid but also to enhance their active lifestyles. Today’s companions and personal assistants are selected by how well they fit a tailored job description.

In the past, private staffing companions may have been more involved in assisting those with health and mobility issues. Today’s companions and personal assistants are selected based on unique client needs. These needs may include:

  • Working and live-in in luxury remote communities such as: Nantucket, Aspen, Sun Valley, Caribbean islands, etc.
  • Special skills with dogs, grandchildren, cooking, sports and house management
  • Calendar, organization and business assistance
  • Training and certification: First aid, CPR, RN, rehabilitation
  • Household tasks: laundry, couture, entertaining, shopping
  • Driving, walking, hobby activities
  • Social companion to restaurants, travel and resorts
  • Wardrobe organization and styling
  • Supervising other domestic staff and residences

Personality factors are also an important part of household staff fit. Such personality factors include energy, background, flexibility, education and talents. These are a few considerations for the hiring selection process.

Hiring a companion/personal assistant during covid requires especially disciplined measures for client protections. This can lead clients to rely upon only one or two key staff members. Companion/PA jobs often have generous salaries to ensure longer term retention.

Screening and background checks are of utmost importance, and Private Staff Group takes these very seriously. Here are some of the measures we are taking to ensure your safety during covid and beyond:

  • Comprehensive background checks, including education and driving
  • Zoom interviews
  • 90-Day Placement Guarantee
  • Privacy protection plan
  • Advisement on best safety practices and protocols

Review our private staff hiring protocols in detail here. For further information and a discussion of employing private staff safely, please call Stephen Candland at Private Staff Group 203-856-7811 or email: stephen@privatestaffgroup.com​.

Family Assistants vs. Nannies. Which One Do You Need?

With our worlds turned upside down by covid-19, your family’s needs are likely different than they were before. Many schools are online, requiring far more oversight of your children throughout the day. Although many parents are working from home, their busy schedules may not allow for the time necessary to ensure their child is excelling at school. In addition, with kids home a lot, you may be finding that your home is getting messy more quickly, and you are having to cook and grocery shop far more often. In addition, keeping your kids occupied is never easy, and is likely even more challenging now. If this sounds like you, your family would benefit most from a family assistant. 

How do nannies and family assistants differ?

Nannies are typically for younger children who require round the clock care. If your family needs are more than just childcare, a family assistant may be a better choice for you. The family assistant role is more versatile. Family assistants are like a hybrid between a nanny and a personal assistant. In other words, family assistants help the parents rather than just helping/prioritizing the kids. 

Other factors to consider are whether or not you want your family assistant to live in or not. Many families opt for the former, especially during Covid-19, but it is ultimately up to you. Whatever your private staffing needs, Private Staff Group can help. Private Staff Group employs best practices for safety including background checks and virtual interviews as well as health screenings. Read more about our Covid-19 safety guidelines here. Private Staff Group specializes in staffing New York, The Hamptons, Greenwich, Palm Beach, and San Francisco. Apply here for a complimentary private staffing consultation for your home, or email stephen@privatestaffgroup.com or call 1-866-282-7729.

Winterizing Your Hamptons Pool

As summer draws to a close, it is important to make sure that your beautiful pool in the Hamptons is getting the special care it needs. Continue reading for more information on what your staff should be doing to prepare your pool for the winter and ensure ease of opening next summer. 

With fall approaching, it is important to have a plan in place for your pool’s care. Making sure your pool is covered as leaves fall is of utmost importance. Leaves can inundate the system and clog pipes, leading to much bigger problems. In addition, large amounts of debris can lead to the growth of algae and also stain the pool’s plaster.  

Although it gets cold in The Hamptons in the winter, which helps prevent algae and bacteria from thriving, care must be taken to ensure that freezing weather does not damage your pool. In addition, snow should be brushed off your pool cover to prevent damage (SwimmingPool.com).

Failure to care for your pool during the off season can create a more time consuming and expensive pool-opening process in the spring. For example, if algae gets out of hand, your pool may need to be drained (The Pool Butler). However, this can cause significant damage and should be avoided if possible. Consider hiring someone to take care of your pool and lighten your load. 

Keeping a bespoke pool in top shape year round is no small task. Cleaning should be performed weekly, like skimming debris from the surface, brushing the walls, clearing the skimmer, testing the water, and adding chemicals (Hayward Pool). Pools require many different chemicals that should be purchased from a specialty store. In addition, a sample of your pool water should be taken to a pool shop at least monthly for a full testing panel. 

Whether you summer in the Hamptons or plan to stay through the winter, make your life less complicated by simplifying your duties and reducing errands. Private Staff Group will help you find the experienced staff to care for pool and your home.

Pool Care Infographic

(SwimmingPool.com)

Personal vs. Private Chef – Two Vastly Different Roles

As seen on

Pantry Rat

If the culinary world is not your bailiwick and you’re not deeply entrenched in the food arena, there’s a chance that many will think these two roles are one and the same. The positions are vastly dissimilar and particularly for recruiters, the demarcation line between the two has to be clearly defined, so there’s no confusion on the job title for the hire.

Personal Chef  – Culinary guru managing their own business and hiring themselves out to a vast array of clients. They’re their own entrepreneurs and IC (independent contractors) for hire. Each job is a separate billed contract, typically not charged by the hour. Depending on the complexity and scope of the engagement, they may require bringing an assistant or a sous chef. The food items are either billed separately or included in the estimate for the individual event or meal prep.

Private Chef  – Hired exclusively to support the culinary needs of a single family to create daily meal prep or plan events of large scale. They’re an employee of the household, collecting a salary and the chef characteristically travels with the family to other locations. The role is salaried, part of payroll and usually reports to the Estate Manager or Chief of Staff. A private chef may be asked to work directly with an outside catering outfit to assist with event planning for large functions.

Personal Chef

  • Out for hire to different clients
  • You are your own boss creating your own schedule
  • You work in your own city unless the client is paying you to travel
  • You bring in your culinary expertise to plan for a specific event
  • Your direction will be to plan and execute menus revolving around a theme for a special function
  • You bring your own knives, tools and maybe some kitchen equipment
  • Specific spices and condiments will be brought along or purchased
  • You have to pay special attention to specified dietary restrictions, food allergies of family and guests
  • Cost of supplies and food are typically billed separately from services
  • Meal prep may be in your kitchen or may require cooking at the client’s home
  • You may need to bring an assistant depending on the complexity and size of the function and include that in the quote
  • You depend on your own marketing to promote your services
  • Heavy social media presence is very crucial to support your brand
  • You rely on referrals and 5-star reviews
  • You have your own vehicle and are able to claim that as a tax deduction as a company car
  • Billing includes applicable taxes, to file your own 1099 tax forms

Private Chef

  • Role required in a UHNW environment
  • The role is typically sourced through an agency since the position is a full-time hire
  • Cordon Bleu and classically trained qualifications are customarily a requirement for the role
  • It may come with a live-in prerequisite
  • You are employed by one family and are part of the household staff
  • The role usually reports to the EM or COS
  • You are on payroll with eligibility for benefits, bonuses and earn a base salary
  • Your schedule revolves around daily, vibrant meal prep and it can change depending on the requirements, visiting family, guests and special occasions
  • You will need to have a solid knowledge of wine pairing for singular menus
  • Food prep and meals will revolve around the residence location, time of year and seasonality of menus/product
  • You become fully aware of dietary restrictions and food allergies, but will have to pay close attention to guests and visiting family members
  • Taxes are deducted from your salary before your net paycheck
  • Your work is performed in the same kitchen unless you are requested to travel to other residences or locations
  • You have the main kitchen at your disposal and the tools and equipment belong to the principal
  • You’ll be juggling with the many personalities working in the household so you will have to be diplomatic
  • You’ll be the one provisioning and prepping without any help – unless there’s a catered function and you can direct people to assist you
  • You may be asked to prepare food at different times other than meal-times

The role of a private chef is becoming exceedingly popular within the UHNW sector, as these roles have been on an upward trend. Each position will require distinct familiarity with Kosher or Vegan denominations, health and fitness diets or certain ethnic specialties. A private chef carries one of the most important and distinctive roles in a household and it has to be a symbiotic marriage, as every principal’s needs and demands will differ and food presented in a UHNW household has to be far from lackluster and needs to border on iconoclastic.

The onset of Covid19 has had more of these private chef roles emerging and one of the prerequisites, apart from the culinary distinction has made them live-in positions.

The accolades and qualifications for a private chef usually need to be significant. Some of these contenders include executive greats that have previously engaged in some high ranked Michelin star locale and have been lured away by a very attractive salary package.

However the transition from executive to private chef can be challenging, as the tone and atmosphere is vastly opposed to the conditions of a corporate milieu, without sous chefs or assistants to prep, clean and serve. You’re cooking on your own and you are a one-person show.

On the flip side, the role of a personal chef yields the flexibility to select from many clients and set your own pace. Some gigs may be recurrent on a weekly basis and others will involve more of an individualistic flair for a specific catered function.

In closing, become familiar with the vast differences that makes both roles so unique. Each carry equal prestige as they showcase the same devotion to the craft. A vastly passionate love affair for the culinary arts.

“TO EAT IS A NECESSITY, TO EAT INTELLIGENTLY IS AN ART” – Francois de La Rochefoucat

BIT OF TRIVIA

Did you know the original criterion for food preparation in the 1900’s up to the 1930’s was set by the wealthy upper classes and it demanded a subtlety in flavor and simplistic perfection, which at times proved a very challenging achievement.

The penchant for not good, but outstanding food in those eras had percolated down to the middle echelons, since the multitude of cooks employed in large estates and manor houses were middle class folk, recommended and retained for the excellence in their craft.

However, some dishes needed to be elevated with sauces and vinaigrettes to mask their bland constitution as most British grub was notoriously flavorless and had to be heightened with a boost from other cultures around the continent.

Wealthy Americans visiting Europe would endeavor to steal or solicit savvy cooks from stately or suburban residences. Acquiring the right chef de cuisine to run a kitchen and staff with distinction, flair and culinary excellence was, well, an indomitable task and the right chef was very hard to find.


Meet Nanette:

Nanette Pantry Rat

Nanette Hebdige is a globetrotter, manager to very large estates, personal assistant, chef by default and modern day female Indiana Jones. A motto she lives by is “pleasure in the job, puts perfection in the work”. Nanette loves being part of the elite private staff industry executing unparalleled services to UHNW clients. A master juggler with exceptional skills and knowledge who delivers pro-active, impeccable lifestyle results.

Safety Protocols for Private Staff Entering Your Home

As seen in

How are high net worth (HNW) private staff employers getting the personal and household services needed and keeping themselves safe?

Employing private staff services for your home and personal needs can be effective if proper observations, safety measures, and new techniques are part of the mix of management and employment practices, in addition to mutual respect. Accommodating transitions, changing situations such as travel, staying abreast of new Covid information, and being kind and caring to your staff enhances the safety results and experience for all.

If you are relocating to another residence, you have the decision to either bring staff with you or hire locally.  

Practical safety includes:

  • Live in vs. Live out
  • Agreement on procedures with disinfectants
  • Changing of clothing when entering and leaving home
  • Select rooms where work is allowed
  • New staff quarantine for two weeks before starting work
  • Establish protocols for individuals entering your home

Interviewing new private staff candidates:

  • Engage private staff recruitment companies to select best fit candidates
  • Interviews through video calls- Zoom, Facetime, etc.
  • Questions: how long have you been symptom-free?  Have you already had Covid-19?  Have you tested positive for the antibodies?
  • If there is an option for Live-in, discuss the arrangements and safeguards
  • Discuss extra duties during the time of virus lock downs
  • How will your staff service needs change post-Covid?

Whether you are hunkered in your bunker, at the beach in the Hamptons, or staying in your main home in Greenwich, thinking through your options, researching best safe practices and extending your plans and rules to your household and personal staff will result in a healthy and happy exit from this time of invisible risks.  

For further information and a discussion of employing private staff safely, please call Stephen Candland at Private Staff Group 203-856-7811 or email: stephen@privatestaffgroup.com.

For more information about New York’s Covid-19 recommendations for domestic employers, please click here.

Considerations for Hiring a Private Chef in New York

During coronavirus quarantines, many affluent New Yorkers are turning to private chefs in lieu of grocery delivery or take-out. Chefs can save long wait-times for groceries, while home-cooked meals are a healthier option to eating restaurant takeout. In addition, using a private chef is relaxing, convenient, and saves time. However, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

When choosing a private chef, it is important to consider all of your needs. For example, do you have any dietary restrictions or nutritional goals? Do you want a chef who specializes in a particular cuisine? Will a chef need to bring their own tools or is your kitchen outfitted with everything? Perhaps the most important consideration is the frequency at which you want them cooking meals for you or your family.The answers to these questions will determine whether you need a personal chef or a private chef.

With a personal chef, you are one of several clients, while a private chef is exclusively yours. A personal chef is great for saving costs, but generally means less flexibility and availability. If you cannot commit to a solid meal time, hiring a personal chef may be wasteful because they typically charge by the hour. Depending on how often and when you want meals prepared, a private chef might be a better choice. With Covid-19 risks, hiring a private chef in New York City may also be safer than a personal chef, especially if they are live-in. However, with safety precautions, any chef with proper training and experience can help.

Once you’ve narrowed down the chef candidates that suit your preferences, there are several recommendations for the final selection. Among the most important, is to ask for a menu or two. Menus give insights into the types of foods your chef might be cooking for you on a day to day basis. If the menu looks appealing, the next step is to request samples. You should also discuss with each candidate who their suppliers are. That will give you an indication about the quality of food you will be tasting. A private chef should have a business license as well as health permit, and they should be familiar with health regulations. Insurance is also important to consider as you move forward given the liabilities associated with food handling.

Finally, word of mouth and reviews are incredibly useful for finding a good chef. Private staffing companies can save you a lot of time and help ensure quality. In addition, staffing companies often provide guarantees that protect their clients.

Hiring a Groundskeeper in Greenwich

Summer is in full bloom in Connecticut. If you own a home and property that need a lot of landscaping and maintenance, you may want to consider hiring a full-time groundskeeper. There are several key considerations when choosing a groundskeeper for your Greenwich, Connecticut property.

The first step is assessing your needs. Are you starting from scratch or wanting to re-landscape your property? Do you need landscape design, construction or sprinkler service? If you have a project, then a full-service groundskeeper is in order. If, on the other hand, you only want to improve upon your existing landscaping or keep it pristine with mowing and pruning, landscape ground maintenance or a property caretaker can help.

In landscaping, you typically get what you pay for as far as quality is concerned. However, something not always reflected in the price is warranty. Does the contracted work include warranties? What about warranties on specific plants?  

Another important consideration is whether or not pest control is part of your groundskeeping service. Certain landscaping can lead to more critters. Proper prevention is vital to stopping pests from doing damage to your plants and trees.  

In the Northeast, like Greenwich, Connecticut, seasonality is essential when considering your landscaping needs. Keeping leaves off your lawn and snow off your sidewalks and driveway is an important service not necessarily needed in other parts of the country. Leaf removal in the fall and snow removal in the winter may be included in some groundskeepers’ regular tasks. Plants that can handle Connecticut’s climate are vital to a well-kept yard. Popular choices include trumpet honeysuckles, New England asters, inkberries, and privet hedges.

One of the best ways to find a quality groundskeeper is through word of mouth. If you’re looking for a full-time groundskeeper for a larger property, you might want to consider working with a private staffing agency. That way you can rest assured your groundskeeper is trustworthy and reliable. Private staffing agencies can do the heavy lifting for you and help you find a caretaker that fits your needs.

Safer at Home – Limiting Risks from Domestic Workers

Protections and services from your household and personal staff

Best practices for virus safety in managing your household and personal staff

Hiring right, receiving productivity and ensuring your protection, health and privacy. Remember, safe measures need to be for both sides – you and your service team.

Interview with Stephen Candland, Partner of Private Staff Group.

Private Staff Group (“PSG”) is a boutique and specialized recruitment search firm serving the distinct staffing needs of exceptional clients for their household, estate, personal and business.

PSG clients typically have multiple homes, large homes, dynamic lifestyles and high expectations for service excellence. Continuation of safe domestic services is possible with proper and custom steps and attention to protections for both the family and the staff.

What are you seeing in safe practices in continuing to use household staff?

Hygiene can include changing of clothes before entering the home. For example, fresh laundered uniform clothing to change into for the domestic worker. Simple black pants/white shirt, etc. Wearing disposable gloves and face-mask is recommended.

Is Live-in an option?

Upscale doormen buildings are reluctant to let in outside domestic workers to the building. Often the workers traveled to the building via subway, etc. If you have a separate quarters or bedroom, could you accommodate a live-in situation. Vacation or second homes, sometimes have guest quarters, pool house, etc. Keeping your staff in your home and on property protects all. Everyone can share supplies, food and work together in a clean environment.

Clients have rented separate apartments or residences for staff quarters.

If I am not comfortable with current staff in my home?

Clients are placing staff on leave of absence (furlough)- typically with full or partial salary. Clients may decide to eliminate any and all outside persons, including vendors from entering the home during this time

How to handle help for relocations to vacation homes, yachts, etc.?

PSG clients have relocated to homes as far away as New Zealand. Most are taking private jets to second homes as an extra precaution. Extensive sanitary cleaning of jets, homes, cars, etc. is critical to peace of mind. We have seen clients send staff ahead to conduct cleaning, and then quarantine themselves (staff) for a couple weeks before joining the client in the home.

Chefs have been taken to second residences as they can handle all the kitchen, shopping, cooking, etc. with confidence as the chef is required to wear proper PPE outside and inside the home, thus reducing exposure risk for principals.

How can Private Staff Group be helpful to my needs?

We have partnered with clients to hire assistants who work virtually. We have recommended exceptional service staff who are willing to Live-in, travel to remote home locations, and be of multi-service such as cook, housekeeper, server, family assistant, etc. PSG finds the best candidates who are prepared to clean properly, be pleasant in the home and a trusted partner to keeping you as safe as possible and enabling a pleasant household environment.

We have wonderful candidates available for short interim situations. PSG and the client often work together to design and implement the right cleaning, orientation and training. Background checks and payroll are offered too.

Let’s work together to get you the hygiene and preventative measures which can be enhanced by your domestic staff. Help in the home can be completely safe and add to the enjoyment and manageability of this confined period.

View Article Here

Summer’s Coming – Time To Assess Your Summer Household Staffing Needs

With summer soon approaching, it’s time to begin preparing your summer home for use and enjoyment. Some individuals and families have domestic staff who remain at both their winter and summer homes year around. Others have employees who travel wherever they are living at the time, and bring in additional part-time staff to supplement their core team as needed. In either case, now is the time to evaluate your household staffing needs.

If you can, speaking with household staff members provides valuable insight into what kind of support you will really need at your other home. You may not need full staff and some of the tasks required may be done remotely, or with the assistance of a year-round Caretaker or Property Manager working in conjunction with members of your year-round staff.

Using the support system you already have in place is a great starting point. Many Estate Managers network with other Estate Managers, vendors and support staff for project-based work such as landscaping, pool and/or tennis court maintenance and catering for events.

Weekend and traveling Nannies will often work on a contracted basis for several weeks, as will Housekeepers and Chefs. A year-round Caretaker, or, depending on the size of the property, Domestic Couple may be a great way to maintain dedicated household staff who can train and manage other domestic staff, as well as work with vendors, and monitor your home in your absence.

During particularly tough winters or after major storms, it may be wise to send out a trusted advisor to assess damages to the home and come up with a plan to make repairs and adjustments according to your budget. Keeping an open line of communication between your remote staff, the staff in your primary residence and any contractors and vendors is crucial to maintaining organization and efficiency.

Household staff considerations with Coronavirus include:

  • Regular testing of staffers (if possible)
  • Personal protective gear: gloves and masks
  • Wiping down surfaces, phones, door knobs, the kitchen and bathroom appliances, etc.
  • If you have a Live IN option for staff?
  • Consult other authorities and resources for home sanitizing advice

In order to have household staff in place, trained and prepared by Memorial Day weekend, contacting agencies as early as early April might be appropriate. While short-term domestic help is available, finding qualified individuals can take time.

About Private Staff Group

Private Staff Group presents you with every possible best-fit candidate for your position. Whether you are preparing to staff your summer home or planning for the future, Private Staff Group offers a guarantee period with all placements. Should the candidate leave your employment within 90 days for any reason, we will replace them at no additional charge. To learn more about what we can do we invite you to contact us today.

What to Look for When Conducting Background Checks for a Private Staff Employee

When you are looking to hire a domestic employee, you need to be able to trust them. Depending on their job, they will have access to valuable things such as personal assets or money. Because of this, it is a necessary precaution to conduct a thorough background check on candidates. Whether it is a criminal record or a driving infraction, you should know what a candidate has done in the past and if this will affect their work.

Of course, a criminal check is the first thing to consider. Anything that comes up in a criminal check should be taken seriously. Any record of violence, theft, substance abuse, etc. should be thoughtfully considered. An applicant who has been background checked should have signed a release, making it reasonable for you to reach out to them and discuss anything you find.

In addition to this, if the candidate will have access to cash and credit cards, it is important to run a credit check on them. Note their creditors and assess the difference between a candidate who went through a financial hardship in their life and fell behind compared to someone who has erratic spending habits and is clearly living outside of their means. Allow the candidate to explain their situation, what steps they have taken to correct any issues, and their plans for next steps.

A bad driving record is also something to consider. If the candidate will be driving you or your family regularly, such as a chauffeur or nanny, any blemish on their driving record can indicate carelessness and could be putting the lives of you and your family in danger. There is a difference between running a red light after maintaining a clean record for 10 years and a consistent pattern of bad behavior: when in doubt, always trust your gut. It is never a bad idea to speak with the candidate about any issues you see and see how they react or explain themselves.

Another area to consider is employment and education verifications. Major differences in these can be an extremely negative sign. A falsified background means not only is this candidate potentially unable to perform the duties set forth in the position but can indicate some bad qualities about their personality and morals in general.

Particularly in domestic situations, security is paramount and if anything seems untrustworthy, it should not go without discussing openly with your applicant. You should discuss any discrepancies you find during your background check with your candidate. There are situations where the candidate may be able to explain themselves, however, if you do not have a good feeling about something you find, it is best just to find another candidate who will make you feel at ease.

About Private Staff Group

There are important pre and post-employment considerations when hiring private staff such as nannies, personal assistants, estate/household managers, housekeepers, etc. Private Staff Group performs exhaustive profiling assessments on all candidates, sharing results, references and background checks. To learn more about our process we invite you to contact us today.

How A Personal Concierge Service Can Help with Your Busy Life

Many of us are familiar with concierges at hotels. But as the lives of ordinary people continue to get busier, personal concierge services are becoming much more common.

The word concierge comes from the French comte des cierges, the “keeper of the candles.” This was the servant in medieval castles who tended to the needs of visiting noblemen. Eventually, the name “concierge” came to stand for keeper of the keys at public buildings. Now in hotels it is the person who provides services such as making accommodations, recommendations or reservations for their guests.

A personal or corporate concierge service provides personal errands, solves particular problems, and can even work on a virtual basis. A Personal Assistant handles all the Concierge activities and is tailored to your personal life. A concierge is not as personal and does not need a real knowledge of your lifestyle.

A concierge service can have one self-employed person handling all requests, or consist of a group of concierge professionals who specialize in dealing with particular clients.
Personal or corporate concierges can be on-site or on-call. They can do just about anything that needs to get done, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Housekeeping and organizing
  • Pet Care
  • Errands
  • Car repairs and upkeep
  • Event planning
  • Personal shopping and gift buying
  • Plant care
  • Making appointments
  • Picking up dry cleaning
  • Moving assistance
  • Travel arrangements
  • Handling of correspondences
  • Meal pickup, chef services, market runs
  • Reservations
  • Personal inventory
  • Interior decorating
  • Research

A bittersweet aspect of the growing job market is that so many people have returned to work and therefore do not have the time or resources to take care of personal tasks. If your busy life is overwhelming you then, hiring a concierge service to make the phone calls and run the errands for you, may be just what you need.

About Private Staff Group

At Private Staff Group our technologies, our recruitment team and our candidate networks are second to none when it comes to finding the personal, private, and domestic professionals you can count on. Ensuring you are paired with the right candidate is our top priority. To learn more about what we can do we invite you to contact us today.

Hire a Domestic Couple: Traditional vs. Nontraditional

Hiring a domestic couple is a great option if you are looking for a team of two individuals to work together. Occasionally, you may be presented with a unique option in which a “couple” does not have a connection other than their professional background. In other words, they may present themselves as a couple and have willingness to work as one but not actually be a couple by definition – a nontraditional domestic couple.

Typically, a nontraditional couple is two people who have worked or lived closely with each other in the past, know they work very well together as a team, but are not actually life partners. When comparing a nontraditional domestic couple with a traditional one, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Depending on your specific needs, you should consider what kind of couple would help you the most.

Benefits of a Traditional Domestic Couple:

  • A united team working towards a common goal
  • The ability to share living space
  • Having a shared past, experience problem solving, brainstorming, etc.
  • An understanding of how each other works – they can hit the ground running

Potential Challenges with a Traditional Domestic Couple:

  • If you need to let go of one employee, you may have to let go of both as they come as a team. (Sometimes, while they may both be talented candidates, their strengths and weaknesses don’t balance out to meet your needs. For example, they are both good cooks but neither of them are particularly skilled at working with children.)
  • Couples usually would like to take their vacation time together

Benefits of a Nontraditional Domestic Couple:

  • Are flexible to take separate vacation days
  • Are flexible to be separated if needed
  • Can work more independently of each other
  • Different backgrounds and sets of ideals may lead to more creative problem solving

Potential Challenges with a Nontraditional Domestic Couple:

  • May require more living space
  • May not have had too much experience in a similar position working very closely together

Every situation is unique and therefore requires its own distinct set of expectations as well as limitations. What can work in one situation may not work in another so it is best to take everything into consideration when deciding what kind of couple you would benefit from hiring.

About Private Staff Group

At Private Staff Group our technologies, our recruitment team and our candidate networks are second to none when it comes to finding the personal, private, and domestic professionals you can count on. If you want to hire a domestic couple, we can pair you with the right candidates. To learn more about what we can do we invite you to contact us today.

The Importance of Employment Contracts When Hiring Domestic Staff

When hiring a new employee, whether a personal chef, personal assistant, nanny or any other household staff, an employment contract is a great opportunity for you and the new hire to go over all the details of the role.

Important Aspects to Include in Your Domestic Staff Contracts

  • Employee title
  • Employee duties and responsibilities
  • Compensation & Payrolling
  • Benefits
  • Hours
  • Vacation, personal and sick days as well as disability, maternity, bereavement and other absences
  • Confidentiality: proprietary information
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Disciplinary/Termination procedures
  • Notice periods

Discussing these will help both you and your new employee to understand the expectations you have for each other. Presenting a new household employee with a contract and allowing them time to review and ask questions is a great way to make sure everyone understands the job and is in agreement from the start.

While a contract provides accountability, as you and your employee are now held legally responsible for maintaining the standards set forth in the contract, you should also keep in mind that there is a lack of flexibility as well. A contract locks you into terms you may want to alter later, which means engaging in new negotiations that could potentially end not mutually beneficial. Sometimes, it is best to have a different contract made for each domestic staff role tailored specifically to them, in order to ensure the contract is as fair as possible.

About Private Staff Group

There are important pre and post-employment considerations when hiring private staff. Once staff is onboard, an employer needs to ensure proper IRS and state and local employment compliance and payroll tax obligations. Private Staff Group offers employment solutions to handle these important staffing requirements. For more information on our staffing solutions, contact us today.

How Private Staff Services Have Changed Over The Years

Private staff services have certainly changed over the years. In a recent Town & Country issue, they discussed the changes in job titles and new specialists that have taken over the modern households. In addition to the unique added roles, traditional positions can take on more responsibilities.

Combining Responsibilities

One of the big changes over the years has been combining responsibilities of your staff. Clients may realize they need a little bit of help here and there, but don’t need a full-time person for anything specific. Adding more responsibilities to a position can help save money. An Estate Manager can handle all of the estate matters, but they can also take on troubleshooting around the estate or increasing security. A client may not need two full time employees, so grouping tasks can provide benefits.

New Jobs Coming Into the Private Staffing Market

With modern trends constantly changing, the upper class continues to seek gurus in those areas. In 2019, we witnessed trends range from a morning celery juice to improve your health, all the way to crystals to improve your mood and energy. These job titles have opened up because of popular demand. While there are still the traditional positions being requested (housekeeper, chauffeur, and cook) the demand for nontraditional positions continues to rise. It is up to the staffing agencies to find the best possible candidates for their clients.

Read the Town & Country Article

About Private Staff Group

At Private Staff Group our technologies, our recruitment team and our candidate networks are second to none when it comes to finding the personal, private, and domestic professionals you can count on. Ensuring you are paired with the right candidate for your unique needs is our top priority. To learn more about what we can do we invite you to contact us today.

Hire a Personal Cook or Chef?

If you have made the decision that you need some extra help around the kitchen, you may be wondering where to go from there. Do I hire a personal cook or chef?

Personal Chef vs. Cook

The main difference between a personal cook and a chef is that a chef has completed a culinary training program or has spent some time working in a professional kitchen. A cook is any individual who enjoys meal preparation, knows how to keep a kitchen properly stocked, and can accommodate basic dietary needs.

Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef

If you have a very active household, a strict diet, particular tastes, or entertain often, a chef may be the best option for you. A chef can work part time or full time. A part-time chef may prepare meals for days that they are off and store them to be reheated later. He or she will usually shop for the ingredients needed to prepare their food fresh each day. Some chefs will serve, while others prefer to remain in the kitchen and may assist in finding staff to serve a formal meal. Typically, chefs are more capable of cooking for large groups and know how to present attractive culinary displays. Chefs can innovate to prepare creative meals, and will work with your tastes and needs to make unique and seasonally appropriate dishes.

Benefits of Hiring a Cook

A cook may be perfect if you need someone to prepare light, simple meals for you and your children. A cook can follow a recipe and prepare family style meals. They will make sure your pantry is always stocked with the things you need. A cook may need extra hired help if you plan on entertaining a large group of people. Typically, a cook will have other skills as well, such as housekeeping, laundering, chauffeuring, or providing butler or nanny services.

About Private Staff Group

At Private Staff Group our technologies, our recruitment team and our candidate networks are second to none when it comes to finding the personal, private, and domestic professionals you can count on. Whether you want to hire a personal chef or cook, we can pair you with the right candidate. To learn more about what we can do we invite you to contact us today.

NDAs for Decorators of Affluent Homes

These days—especially when it comes to high-end residential projects—non-disclosure agreements are, as interior designer David Scott puts it, “as commonplace as Ubers and Starbucks.” So much so, in fact, that several architects and designers asked by T&C to comment on the increasing ubiquity of decorator NDAs wouldn’t comment—or, in one case, would only do so anonymously. Some did, however, speak on the record, and they have some constructive advice for the extremely private.

No Dogs Allowed

Scott was once asked to sign an NDA that extended to the clients’ pets. That’s a no-go. You should limit demands to the classics, says acclaimed French architect and interior designer Robert Couturier: “You won’t divulge who you’re working for, how much money they spend, or where they live. Often you have to have all your subcontractors sign one as well.”

Manage Your Ego

“NDAs make sense when it’s a matter of security, when a family could be threatened,” Couturier says. “It’s incredibly irritating, though, when it’s for a society woman who posts photos of herself waking up in the morning and thrives on notoriety.”

Beware of Social Media

“For one client,” Couturier says, “I had to go through my Instagram account and erase pictures that I had taken of the construction site. He had flipped through thousands of posts trying to find those of his job site. That must have taken him hours. I think people have an incredibly inflated opinion of themselves.”

Call It The Michael Cohen Statue

One architect who asked to remain anonymous so as not to jeopardize high-profile projects pleads with clients not to get him involved with law enforcement. “Sometimes,” the architect says, “NDAs ask for restrictions on disclosing information that seem as if they were written by someone trying to hide something from Robert Mueller!”

Leave No Paper Trail

“Many NDAs have archaic language from the days of paper files that doesn’t seem relevant any longer, such as a commitment to destroy all copies if asked,” says the anonymous architect. “This is nearly impossible in a digitally backed-up era.”

Trust Matters

Some NDAs are too demanding. Adjust accordingly. “When documents become so one-sided that they tip away from reasonable restrictions,” says the architect, “you really start to wonder about the intent of the person on the other side.”

Couturier asks, “If a client doesn’t trust his or her designer to protect him, what’s the point of working together?”

Attribution: Town and Country Magazine- April 2019

Care.com Puts Onus on Families to Check Caregivers’ Backgrounds – With Sometimes Tragic Outcomes

On a warm July morning last year, Amelia Wieand left her twin toddlers at an in-home day-care center outside Knoxville, Tenn. She had read about the facility on Care.com, the largest online marketplace for babysitters and other caregivers.

The listing said the center was state-licensed. It wasn’t, state records say. In fact, after receiving reports that the woman who ran it was watching up to 11 children, a state agency had obtained an injunction two months earlier barring her from operating an unlicensed facility.

None of that was available to Care.com members such as Ms. Wieand. At one point, the day-care center indicated to clients there was a problem with its license, but assured Ms. Weiand and other parents it was taking care of the matter.

Hours after being dropped off, the children, Elyssa and Elijah, a month away from their second birthdays, were pulled out of the baby sitter’s pool. Both died.

Care.com Inc., with about 32 million members in over 20 countries, charges up to $39 a month to see listings on its site. Shares of the Waltham, Mass.-based company have quadrupled in three years as revenue has surged. Its biggest stockholder is Capital G, a fund backed by Alphabet Inc.Behind Care.com’s appeal is a pledge to “help families make informed hiring decisions” about caregivers, as it has said on its website.

Still, Care.com largely leaves it to families to figure out whether the caregivers it lists are trustworthy. It does what it calls “preliminary screening” of them, which isn’t a full background check, and doesn’t verify credentials. It does no vetting of day-care centers listed on its site.

Care.com suggests that customers purchase additional screening packages, which cost $59 to $300.

In about 9 instances over the past six years, caregivers in the U.S. who had police records were listed on Care.com and later were accused of committing crimes while caring for customers’ children or elderly relatives, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed police records, court records and local media reports. Alleged crimes included theft, child abuse, sexual assault and murder.

The Journal also found hundreds of instances in which day-care centers listed on Care.com as state-licensed didn’t appear to be. Care.com said it has made more than 1.5 million successful matches since it began service a dozen years ago.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, chief executive, chairwoman and founder, said the company invests heavily in ensuring the safety of members. She said the marketplace is designed for “shared responsibility overall,” with families having the option to pay for more screening.

“Care.com is a marketplace platform, like Indeed or LinkedIn,” Ms. Marcelo said. “Like those services, we do not generally verify the information posted by users, interview users or conduct employment-level background checks.”

The company said it sends many messages during the membership application process—through its website, emails and other alerts—stating that it doesn’t fully screen caregivers and that parents are responsible for background checks.

Read More

Private Staff Group Featured in Quest Magazine

Quest magazine, the monthly journal of New York’s new “400,” covering their causes and careers, the passions that drive them, and the unions that unite them, recently did an article on the “How- To’s of Hiring” featuring Stephen Candland. If you’ve never hired private staffing before, the journey can seem overwhelming. Learn about all of the tips and tricks of hiring private staff.

View The How To’s of Hiring

Quest Magazine How To’s of Hiring

 

Optimizing Your Home and Domestic Staff

Who is managing whom?

Whether you have one employee or six, how do you spend less time managing and more time doing what you love?

Ironically, when you made your first private staff hire, your goal was to have more personal time. Time consuming frustration can come from:  inconvenient time-off requests, low productivity, staff turnover, recruitment and interview time, explaining and monitoring, etc.

How can you reduce your staff management time and increase your enjoyment of your home, family and friends?

  • Create an employment agreement, which specifies responsibilities, time off, compensation and other expectations. This makes everything clear
  • Set up an organizational structure- who reports to who? Get yourself out of the loop.
  • Schedule a regular time for performance reviews and communications. Once a month?
  • Be knowledgeable about market rates for salary and hours. Don’t lose a valued and trusted employee.
  • Always be thinking of back-up plans. You never know.
  • Review security, confidentiality and asset protection plans. Twice a year.
  • Be generous, respectful and appreciative. Your kindness will be well rewarded.

If everyone is clear, you are inspecting what you expect and communicating regularly, management time will dramatically decrease and productivity and quality will increase.

Contact Private Staff Group for samples of:

  • Job Descriptions
  • Employment Agreement
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Performance Review

The World of Staffing for the High Net Worth

We interviewed one of the leading recruiters of private, personal and business staff, Mr. Stephen Candland of Private Staff Group’s  New York office. Their clients employ staff for residences and business to meet a wide variety of unique service requirements. Most requested staff are: personal assistants, estate and property managers, housekeepers and cooks.

What is the biggest change in employing private staff in the last 5 to 10 years?

Homes, art, technology, security and employment considerations are all dramatically more complicated today. Hiring staff that work in our homes and are involved in our personal lives requires a professional process and more business-like management.

What are the most requested job candidates?

Housekeeper and Housekeeper/Cooks are the most requested, followed by Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants for personal, family, social and business responsibilities. Estate and Property Managers in many locations are active searches, as well.

Are Butlers still in style?

Yes, very much so. We see diplomats, high profile CEO’s and financiers and international transplants continuing to use Butlers. There are 3 or 4 excellent butler training schools.

How are women using Private Staff?

We have placed stylists, organizers, personal assistants and of course, nannies.
Women who entertain in beautiful homes in multiple locations may employ a lifestyle enabler with talents in decorating, event management, flowers, and staff supervision.

How does today’s employer of private staff find the right and best-fit candidates?

Historically, personal and household staff was sourced through personal referrals or ads in the newspaper. Our clients today are much more privacy sensitive and don’t invite strangers into their home for job interviews. You never know who is walking in the door. We conduct the search and screening so the candidates who are introduced are vetted properly.

What is different today in employing and managing private staff?

Smartphones! Your staff each has a movie camera, which instantly uploads to the Internet. Security and trust are more important than ever.

Your most unusual placement?

Finding the right estate manager for a couple who had struggled to find an estate manager able to execute their style, values and constantly changing schedules. They had perpetual turnover issues. This candidate dramatically improved their lives by allowing them to realize their family and home priorities.

6 Ways To Promote A Better Working Environment For Your Household Staff

Fostering a team environment in a household setting can be tough. Many households require round-the-clock care as well as many moving parts all working at the same time. As a result, some employees working for the same family may hardly, if ever, actually cross paths. This can create inconsistencies in service and ineffective communication. It is important for employees to understand what they can accomplish together, as a team.
Benefits of communication include:

  • Building trust
  • Clear sense of direction
  • Boosting of employee morale
  • Measuring effectiveness
  • Goal setting

Ways to promote better communication include:

  • Group bulletin board – A bulletin board can be an important way to keep your staff informed and connected to the daily routine of the household. A staff bulletin board can be used to highlight various items including a calendar of upcoming dates, important household contacts, updates, or even staff member of the month. The more updated information you maintain on the bulletin board, the more prone your staff will be to look at it on a regular basis.
  • Shared break area – A shared break area can foster a sense of community among your staff. By sharing a break area, your staff is able to relax and connect with others who are working alongside them. Even if certain members of your staff are not able to interact throughout their day, a shared break area can allow them to build relationships that otherwise would not have been possible.
  • Newsletters (digital or print) – This is especially important if your household employs staff in different areas. Whether it is it the kitchen, personal assistants, or nannies, all staff members should be aware of what is going on in the household as a whole to ensure there are no miscommunications. A newsletter, no matter if it is digital or in print, can keep different staff informed on developments occurring in other areas of the household.
  • Team meetings – Like a shared break area, team meetings can also foster a sense of community. By bringing together all your staff in one place at one time, important household matters can be addressed. Whether you are just going over next week’s agenda or addressing a new development, team meetings can allow all staff members to connect and stay in the know.
  • Online groups – Online groups are a great way for you and your staff members to stay in constant communication. Everyone in the group is working towards the same goal of a smoothly running household, so support and advice from other staff members can be very helpful.
  • Staff mailboxes – Staff mailboxes can be beneficial to both you as an employer, as well as for staff members as another option for communication. Staff can receive daily agendas or updates every morning and can leave communications for each other.

Effective communication will give every employee an opportunity to have better access to the information they need to best do their jobs. Employees who feel that they are contributing to the success of the team will be happier and therefore more productive.

Traveling With Your Staff

Traveling can be stressful at times, even when it’s not meant to be. Imagine having a helping hand to lighten the load. Whether it be for a business trip or a family vacation, bringing along a personal assistant or nanny can make traveling a much more positive experience. However, in order to get the most out of traveling with your staff, make sure to iron out the details before you leave.

Accommodations: Make sure you and your household staff are both aware of where each of you will be staying. If a nanny is traveling with you, is she sharing a space with you or will she have her own room? It’s best to sort this out before your trip to avoid confusion later.

Time on and Time off: If you are traveling with a nanny or butler, your needs might be different than they are at home. This being said, so might their expectations. For example, a butler traveling with you to the Hamptons may need to be available for evening driving which was not necessary in New York City. Compromise before the trip to work out their hours based on your needs.

Itinerary: A top-notch personal assistant will already have the itinerary handy, but it’s important to double check that you both are on the same page. Where everyone should be at certain times, what they need, and travel accommodations from one place to the next are especially important.

Proper Documents: This is vital especially when it comes to traveling abroad. If traveling internationally, make sure your staff is properly screened. You should also be aware of things such as immunizations, visa and passport requirements, and foreign exchange rates to avoid unnecessary and unexpected hassles during the trip.

Emergency Plans: Unexpected events such as sudden illness, accidents, or even death can put a damper on your trip, so it’s always best to be prepared. Emergency cash advances, message relays to family and friends, legal assistance, etc. are things that should be prepared before your trip. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Reimbursements: Like accommodations, reimbursements should be sorted out before the trip. You should be clear with your household staff on what is covered and what isn’t.