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Ask Andreas: Avoiding culture clashes with your helper

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsFamily LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life - Post Category - Domestic HelpersDomestic Helpers


We have the best Agony Uncle at Sassy Mama – Andreas is the author of one of our most-recommended books: Hiring & Managing Domestic Help. It’s an absolute must-have for Hong Kong mamas and you can buy it here!

This week, one mama wants to know about potential culture clashes…

I’m interested in hiring an Indonesian or Sri Lankan helper, but don’t know very much about either of these cultures — how might these nationalities differ from Filipina helpers in their expectations or working habits?

The Philippine culture is probably the closest to “Western” culture. Most Filipinas are Christian in some connotation, there is a widespread knowledge of English and social mores at least somewhat resemble those in Western countries. Indonesia, on the other hand, is predominantly Muslim while Sri Lanka is mostly Buddhist. Furthermore, the cultures are very different from Western ones.

So if you are Western, there will likely be less of a culture clash if you hire a Filipina. Very importantly though, that shouldn’t really matter! You are hiring an individual, not a nationality. The spread of personalities within a nationality is far bigger than the difference between one culture and another. You may find a fantastic (or, yes, a mediocre) helper regardless of nationality.

Having said that, if you are, for example, a devout Muslim or Catholic, perhaps a helper that shares your beliefs might work better for you. This is especially important when it comes to dietary rules. But again, a good helper is a good helper and will work around such differences.

Within reason, do make allowances for your helper’s cultural foibles. Hiring a helper involves humility on both sides and you should be understanding of religious and cultural behaviour that seems odd to you. She should of course do the same with your cultural oddities.

For the only guide you’ll ever need on working with a helper, check out Andreas’ fab book ‘Hiring and Managing Domestic Help’ and buy it here.

Do you have a question for Andreas? Email [email protected] with the subject line “Ask Andreas” and we’ll make sure it gets answered on the site!


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