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Blurred lines between you and your staff

From nannies who raise multiple generations of one family, to estate managers who oversee the upkeep of a distinguished property for decades, there are many exceptional members of private staff who work for a particular household for many years and develop a close bond with their employers. Although this bond can be extremely beneficial for both parties, there can be unexpected instances wherein the lines of professional colleague and personal confidant can become blurred.

Unfortunately, if clear boundaries are not established then these uncomfortable situations can cause fundamental rifts between employers and their staff. Whether it is a case of employers finding themselves feeling obliged to provide financial support for their staff, or if the roles are versed and a member of staff feels conflicted after their employer has divulged deeply personal aspects of their personal life to them, these circumstances can leave one or both parties feeling uncomfortable, resentful and unsure how to interact with one another. Regardless of the circumstances, these delicate situations are not conducive to a promoting a content, productive atmosphere within any family household.

Fortunately this is where Eden Private Staff can help. Over the past 25 years of working within the private staff industry, we have witnessed and resolved many instances wherein the personal and professional lives of employers and their staff have become blurred. Consequently, by following the industry-exclusive insights that we have outlined within this guide, both you and your staff can facilitate a positive working relationship that will protect the best interests of both parties.

How to avoid problems from arising due to financial matters

One of the most common causes of blurred personal and professional lines arising between employers and their staff is due to financial matters. For instance, you may find yourself placed in an uncomfortable position wherein you feel obliged to pay for your staff’s personal expenses; such as car payments, student loans or credit card debt. Although the vast majority of private staff will not put their employer in these awkward positions, there are instances wherein you may feel conflicted about whether to provide financial support for your staff. Similarly, if a member of staff frequently runs small errands for their employer then they may find themselves out of pocket for expenses for which they feel they should be reimbursed. Many members of private staff become anxious and tense in these circumstances because they find it difficult to discuss these awkward financial situations with their employer.

However, there is a simple yet highly effective solution which can resolve these types of financial matters for both you and your staff. By compiling a written agreement prior to the commencement of work that includes the following clauses you and your staff can be protected from any blurred lines regarding financial matters;

  • Car maintenance and servicing costs: This particular clause should outline whether your staff will be reimbursed for any fuel, maintenance or servicing costs when they use either your car or their own vehicle for work-related purposes. You should use this clause to state the exact extent to which your staff will be reimbursed and when they will receive this payment.
  • Payment arrangements: You will need to specify your private staff’s hourly or daily rate of pay for days, nights, weekends and holidays. You should also use this section of the agreement to state when your private staff will be paid; i.e. on a weekly or monthly basis, as well as discussing clear payment rates for any overtime to which your private staff may be entitled.
  • Benefits: By clearly outlining the various benefits for which you are willing to pay your staff, such as holiday, sick days, national holidays and personal days, you can implement clear boundaries regarding the various benefits to which your private staff can expect to receive.
  • Family holidays: If you intend for your private staff to accompany your family on a holiday then you should include a clause within your employer/staff contract that clearly highlights the particular elements of this holiday for which your staff will be paid/ reimbursed, such as flights and accommodation. In this manner both employer and staff can be safeguarded against having to pay for unexpected holiday expenditures.
  • Healthcare: If you utilise this contract to outline the various staff healthcare expenses that you will cover then you can protect yourself from feeling pressured into paying for your staff’s medical expenses.
  • Activities: If your private staff are required to schedule extracurricular activities for your children then this particular clause can be used to state the particular types of activities that will be permitted and how you will reimburse your staff for arranging these activities. From providing payment at the end of the week to implementing a weekly activity allowance, by including these stipulations you can promote an amicable working relationship with your staff wherein they will not feel that they are out of pocket due to work-related expenses.

These types of employer/staff contracts do not need to be officiated by a lawyer to be legally binding but if you feel more comfortable seeking legal counsel then you are entitled to do so. Ultimately, by compiling this type of employer/staff contract you can maintain a healthy, amicable working relationship with your staff for many years to come without encountering difficulties with regards to financial matters.

How to set clear boundaries with regards to sharing personal information

Second to financial matters, the divulgence of private information is one of the main areas where the lines of personal confidant and professional colleague become blurred between staff and employer. Whether you discuss your private relationships, medical issues or seemingly innocuous gossip about family, friends or colleagues with your staff, sharing this type of personal information can often leave both you and your staff in uncomfortable positions.

As psychotherapist and parenting expert Robi Ludwig advocates, it is important for you as the employer to set the guideline for what is deemed acceptable information to share. Ludwig explains how; “It’s important to know the nanny is not your therapist and you are not her therapist… “If you’re going to be inappropriate, that’s going to send a message to the nanny that the same is OK”.

Although this does not mean that staff and employer cannot support one another, what it does outline is the importance of implementing clear boundaries. If in doubt simply ask yourself; would I feel comfortable discussing such an issue with a regular co-worker? If the answer is no then you should refrain from discussing topics that do not directly impact your professional role within the household.

As such, when approaching the topic of sharing personal information you should ensure that your employer/staff contract also covers the following areas;

  • Divulging confidential information: You should set clear guidelines regarding the type of personal, medical, career or financial information that is deemed acceptable conversation between you and your staff. You should also state whether it is prohibited to repeat the information shared within these conversations outside of the household.
  • Social networking sites: Given the prolific use of social media platforms by both staff and their employers you should outline definitive boundaries regarding the type of content that your staff can and cannot share about your household. For instance; should your private staff be allowed to add you on social media? Are you allowed to mention one another via social media; by name or anonymously? Are you allowed to post comments or pictures including one another?
  • Rules for temporary staff: If you hire temporary staff or if a member of long term staff leaves your household you need to outline the rules and regulations for sharing information after they have left your employ. By including a confidentiality clause within your employer/staff contract then both parties can protect themselves from their personal information being divulged after the fact.

Ultimately, these clauses can prevent anxieties and rifts from developing between you and your staff. They will facilitate a trusting, healthy bond wherein neither party feels anxious or reluctant to converse with the other. After all, it is completely natural to forge a close bond with a member of private staff after many years. As Ludwig states;

“You can love this person but all relationships require healthy boundaries”.

Consequently, by creating a comprehensive employer/staff contract you can support a healthy working relationship with your staff that will prove immensely rewarding and productive for your entire household in the long term.

How Eden Private Staff can help

As this guide has illustrated, with care and consideration it is possible to protect yourself and your staff against the blurred lines of personal confidant and professional colleague. For these reasons, at Eden Private Staff all of our candidates subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Subsequently, by enlisting our services to recruit private staff for your household you can rest assured that you will benefit from the services of consummate professionals who will respect the boundaries of a working relationship. Not only will our innovative candidate selection process match you with a fully certified professional with the sufficient academic accreditations and career background to accommodate for the individual requirements of your household, but our skilled Eden Private Staff team will be able to efficiently resolve any contentious matters that may arise between you and your staff in a manner that will be agreeable for both parties.

Therefore, if you have been searching for a trustworthy, conscientious member of private staff who will serve your household with a diligent, highly respectable work ethic then please feel free to contact Eden Private Staff today. With the help of our forward-thinking candidate selection process and the targeted expertise of professionals who have amassed over 25 years of experience working within the private staff industry, you can achieve complete peace of mind that we will match you with your ideal candidate who will actively benefit your household for many years to come.

November 11, 2015

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Eden Private Staff remain open and committed to providing an exceptional level of service. Our team are available for calls and enquiries and at this stage still able to help you and your family find the right personnel for your requirements. We will be introducing candidates via video calls and following the latest guidance from the government
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