When we hear about how employers treat employees badly, our minds often go to corporate and large organisations. We forget the people who work in our homes and in less formal settings. We are quick to judge the organizations we hear about and use buzz words like they have a “toxic work environment”.
How do we treat our domestic staff such as nannies, maids, drivers, cleaners, gardeners, etc? Do we treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve or are they treated less than human because, how can they be humans equal to us if they have to do menial tasks? There are ethical principles that govern employer and employee relations. These principles do not only apply to corporate organizations or highly organized workplaces. They apply in every type of workplace where there is an employer-employee relationship. An employer that does their best to treat their employees fairly and provide stability of employment is inadvertently sending a message to them that they are concerned about their interest and this fosters loyalty of the employee to the employer.
I will use my late father as an example. My late father’s driver and steward were with him long before I was born. We are talking about over 30 years of employment here. He was not an extremely wealthy man, but he carried the burden of his employees and their families on himself. My dad paid their salaries and rent unfailingly. He even paid for their health care and the school fees for a number of their children. This is in turn fostered loyalty from them. There was nothing bad anybody could say to them about my dad and when he died, they grieved like they had lost a father.
I for one believe that domestic staff should be treated very well. They share an intimate relationship with us. They take care of our children, cook our food and drive us. When we hear of nannies who hurt the children under their care their reason for doing it is usually because their boss treated them badly. I’m not justifying their actions, but maybe if they were treated better, they would not feel the need to take it out on the children.
Employers are supposed to add value to their employees and vice versa. At the very least, they are not supposed to do worse materially, mentally and spiritually under our employ.