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The Impact of COVID-19 on Private Service Recruitment

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on individuals, communities, local and global economies.  To say nothing of the longer lasting psychological effects individuals have suffered, as a result of their own personal experiences during the pandemic, isolation and social distancing.

Once the industry starts to recover, private service staff - traditionally recruited for employer's homes - will need to follow a vastly different interview process. Obviously, it will vary from household to household, owner to owner, but once we get a handle on what the new norm is, there will need to be a clear path for recruiters and candidates to follow.  Liquidity in the market indicates that there will still be strong demand for goods and labour, but when and how quickly the industry bounces back is hard to determine.  Here’s a bit of an overview of what’s likely to change:

Technology will facilitate online candidate presentation and interviewing. That's great for candidates to a certain extent. Potentially, that might mean you could apply for a job no matter where you're based, or where the job is. The interview process won't discriminate your geographic location because you can be interviewed wherever you are.  This is a tricky one though for employers seeking to hire staff for their family home. Virtual interviewing has become acceptable in a public or office environment but at some point during the private household hire process, the family and employer will need to meet their Chef, Personal Assistant or Nanny in-person, face to face.  A Private Chef will need to demonstrate their food and kitchen hygiene practices, just as a housekeeper will need to demonstrate their cleaning and organisation skills.  The nanny will need to meet the children for both parties to work out whether the chemistry is right.  In Private Service, paid working trials/interviews are common. But social distancing has made them impossible, triggering a freeze on the entire hiring process.  

The private workplace is an intimate space. It’s a home after all. Families are, to all intents and purposes, inviting a stranger into their home; to care for or teach their children, prepare meals, maintain furniture, organise personal diaries, travel and clean their bedrooms and bathrooms.

Working in someone’s home brings with it a huge degree of trust, commitment and discretion, being privy to family conversations and arguments. Recruiting a stranger to be party to such intimacies is a fine line to tread, so understandably the process requires an in-person meeting at some point, to establish that trust.

The same works both ways, for the employer and the candidate.  Meeting the family, being shown their home and the "ropes" is crucial for the candidate to determine whether the role is right for them.

Saying that, there are many employers content with virtual interviews because that is how they run their business.

There are other changes that private household recruiters will need to make:

Recruitment companies, like most businesses, will need to clearly define their crisis management strategy, so they have a procedure in place, in the eventuality of a second coronavirus wave.

Recruiters and candidates must be fully up to speed with sanitization and hygiene management best practices. With the last few months under our belts, we are more aware than ever of the risks we face if we don't.

Post COVID-19 there will be opportunities for business and recruiters to differentiate themselves from the market by being the ones who are adept and technologically smart.

Only those businesses who remain professional and plan ahead, rather than functioning on a short-term basis, will be stable and adaptable enough to survive.

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