(Above) Thomukzai meets with her new Village n Life manager during her Home Visit.
Recently, Village n Life (VNL) has enacted a policy of Home Visits. In this policy, VNL managers meet with their potential new staff members at their homes as part of the hiring process.
The reasons for this policy are plenty. Excellent staff are a cornerstone of Village n Life, and so maintaining a good employer-employee relationship is key. However, Village n Life staff often live in places like Khayelitsha, and Phillipi, far from their workplaces. This causes at minimum, transportation difficulties for staff. Besides staff housing at the Royal Maitland 1, Home Visits are another solution VNL is using to bridge the gap.
The potential new employees’ supervisors are the very same ones who conduct the Home Visits. What this means is that accountability is built between the employee and their supervisor from the beginning.
“If a staff member doesn’t show up to work and their manager can call say, their mothers, who they have met before, then that manager is going to find out what is going on much more quickly,” says Maree Brink, Village n Life chairman who initiated the Home Visits policy.
The Home Visits also help determine potential logistical staff issues. For example, proximity to transport options like buses or taxis, and overall proximity to their workplace are all considerations.
Moreover, the idea is that Home Visits will allow Village n Life to build better relationships with their staff.
Valma Jean, a new Village n Life employee, standing in front of her Bonteheuwel home.
Chairmaine during her Home Visit. She was newly hired with Village n Life.
So far, the policy has been in place for the last three months and a number of Home Visits have been conducted. For example, in the Service Centre, 15 housekeepers have been hired through the policy.
The results so far have been surprising. Karleen Thornhill, Service Centre Manager of Waterfront Village conducts Home Visits for her staff. She says she sees them in a different light now. “I have more understanding and empathy for my staff, having seen their home lives and the difficulties they face.” She says, “I’ve also met their children and their support networks like parents or spouses. I think this will mean we are better able to support them to be the best staff they can be. As well, we are better equipped to deal with potential problems.”
Overall, the Home Visits are an investment in staff. On the Home Visits, Sesi Sibanyoni, Host Manager of The Bay Hotel adds, “If you treat your staff well, they’ll treat the guests well.
And how do the staff feel about the visits? “Generally, people are quite curious about the Home Visits, but so far everyone has been very happy to welcome VNL into their homes,” says Karleen.
For Village n Life, it’s about always going a step further to improve staff quality and build relationships.