No Matter Where You Are...Enjoy the Break You Deserve!

No Matter Where You Are...Enjoy the Break You Deserve!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Financial Advisor Magazine: Little Known Facts

We came across a great article from 2007 in Financial Advisor Magazine about "Little Known Facts" when you are hiring staff, much of which still applies today. Some of their tips to getting off to a good start are perfectly worded--and too good not to share! Read below and please let us know your thoughts. For the full article, check out at FA Magazine's website.

Getting Off To A Good Start
What follows is a discussion of the most critical issues pertaining to employees in any environment, whether it's a home, a family office or a conventional business location, and some insight into how to best hire, retain and terminate staff.
1. Pre-employment screening: If a client is planning to hire someone to work in his or her home, the integrity and reliability of the referral source is critical. They should also talk to people who know the applicant, and consider using a formal background check (see item 3 below).
2. Application form: The initial stages of an employment relationship, when handled correctly, can play a significant role in the overall success of the relationship, as well as protecting a client in the event of necessary termination. A few things should be made clear to candidates beginning with the application process: all information collected on the application form should be permissible (for example, you cannot ask about arrests which didn't result in a conviction); all application information provided by a candidate is subject to due diligence, so they should certify that everything is accurate and complete; the application form is not an offer of employment; if an offer is made it will be for "at-will" employment (see item 6 below); and new employees are expected to sign confidentiality agreements (see item 7 below).
3. Background check: The costs for these types of investigations are quite reasonable, especially when compared to the risk of insecure hiring practices. Specifically worded consents are required to legally obtain information regarding an applicant's criminal and credit histories. Improperly worded applications have led to many lawsuits, such as those filed in recent years against many major supermarkets in California.
4. Job description: While a job description is not mandatory, it's a good idea. Be as specific, and realistic, as possible regarding hours, duties, location of work and other pertinent subjects. Your clients should put this information in writing, but reserve the right to change it. This is particularly important for employees with disabilities who ask for special accommodations.
5. Physical exam: Physical exams can be requested only after a provisional job offer is made and, even then, solely to evaluate job related issues (for example, a candidate's ability to lift heavy objects). The Americans With Disabilities Act and most state laws require employers to make a "reasonable accommodation" for a disabled worker. On a related note, it is not permissible to require an "English language-only" workplace unless there's a defensible business need.
6. At-will employment agreement: The terms of at-will employment should be communicated clearly both verbally and in writing, as follows: "You may terminate your employment at any time with or without cause. Likewise your employer can do the same." Without doing so, an implied-in-fact contract can be construed. The agreement should also state that it cannot be changed by anyone unless it has been agreed upon in writing by the employer.
7. Confidentiality agreement: It is important for your wealthy clients to know that information gathered by the household staff in the course of their employment typically is not "confidential" and therefore can be given or sold to another party (say, a tabloid magazine), unless it is protected by a confidentiality agreement. There are, however, provisions that may help an employer keep an employee from disclosing information gained by stealth or through other unauthorized measures.
8. Employee handbook: Generally, it's a good idea to have a handbook of labor policies and procedures if a client has, or plans to have, more than a handful of employees. The handbook should include a sexual harassment policy, setting forth the procedures to be followed in case an employee feels aggrieved; a description of time-keeping requirements (more below); and, if appropriate, a computer and e-mail policy, setting forth how the equipment and services should be used, who owns the equipment, and whether or not information on the computer is considered private. If a client is hiring household staff, it is important to emphasize that the law considers the place of employment "a small business run inside a residence" rather than "a home," and it should be treated as such by all parties. For further protection, your clients should consider establishing a separate legal entity as the "employer."
9. Performance review: Reviews are not required but are an excellent idea, both to provide the employment relationship with the formality it deserves and to give the employee a clear idea of how he or she is doing. Reviews should be done at least yearly.
The following section outlines other considerations for high-net-worth employers, such as time-keeping issues, establishing contractor eligibility and knowledge of labor laws. The examples and advice provided in this article are for illustrative purposes only and are specific to employers in the state of California, although other states may have similar requirements. Before taking action in any state, regulations should be fully researched with counsel.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mother's Day Gifts That Can't Be Outdone

Every year, it's the same old thing. A nice card, sometimes a family field trip, maybe a dinner out. Make this year different, and get creative. The perfect way to show the Moms in your life that you appreciate them is with Alter Ego Concierge!

Give the gift of:

With A Household Organizer 

Time Off...
With A Housekeeper

With A Personal Chef For A Day

With A Personal Assistant For A Day

A Mom Makeover...
With A Personal Shopper

Contact Us:
Call Us 312.802.2337
Email Us 
Check Out Our Website 
Catch Us On Twitter

Monday, April 26, 2010

It Pays To Hire Help At Home

Did You Know...

70% of parents feel they don't have enough time with their children. -Family and Work Institute

88% of employees say they have a hard time juggling work and family life. -Family and Work Institute

36% of workers say that they feel used up and dry at the end of the work day. -Family and Work Institute

Between arranging childcare, managing a career, maintaining a home, caring for a pet, making time for a relationship, and still trying to check off the to do list, it is impossible not to ask for help. And surprisingly, concierge services and domestic staff are no longer "just for the wealthy." 

Concierge services offer individuals & families the chance to have full time access to an employee they pay on a part time basis, who can be used for any variety of purposes. From planning your family vacation to sending out your holiday cards, concierge services have little limit to what can't be done and for as little cost as forgoing a night out. Companies too are quickly learning the value of employees time--when employees are able to have a concierge take care of their oil changes when they can be productive in the office, the cost far outweighs itself.

Domestic staff allow employers the help they need to maximize their potential and fulfill their dreams. With our society being as time crunched we are, it is impossible to have it all without asking for help. Our time may have a price in the workplace, but our sanity has no limit and knowing that you have the best support system possible makes it easier.

Think about the endless possibilities you could do with your free time if you had a clone (or ALTER EGO!) of yourself doing your:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Shopping- groceries, gifts, returns & exchanges
  • Household Management- paying bills, organization, service & repairs
  • Automotive maintenance- from oil changes to car washes, so long Saturday morning trips to Jiffy Lube!
  • Pet Loving- walking, feeding, trips to the vet
  • Housekeeping- dishes, laundry, deep cleaning & more
  • Moving & Relocation- sorting, packing & unpacking
  • Event Planning- from start to execution, your perfect party without lifting a finger
  • Entertainment- Have A Dream? Big or Small, have it all. Hard to find tickets, reservations, & arrangements.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Summer Travel Nanny Needed- Chicago + Michigan

Chicago based family is looking for a part time to full time nanny to start immediately. During the school year, the position will be Monday-Friday 3-9, and transitioning to full time when traveling or in the summertime. Must travel with the family to Michigan from June 22nd- August 1st.  Separate accommodations provided for nanny when traveling, and there will be a second nanny to assist in Michigan. Family has 4 children— 5 year old boy, 7 year old twin boys, and 9 year old daughter. Nanny must be able to swim, and driving is a plus. Wonderful family looking for a highly experienced, loving nanny.

Salary is $135-150/day in Michigan, $17-20/hour during the school year. Must be legal to work in the US, minimum of 3 years nanny experience, and excellent references. To apply, email your resume to or call 312-802-2337. 

Why Pay Legally?

The most common complaint families have when hiring domestic staff is the "hassle" it takes to pay them legally and set up household payroll. While we are not here to advice you on your finances, we cannot stress how important it is to pay your household staff properly. Need reasons why? We refer you to the experts! 

GTM Payroll Services 

Breedlove & Associates 

These are just a few of the amazing companies to help you get household payroll started--making it easier to do the right thing!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When To Hire A Tutor

Many parents struggle with this exact dilemma because they feel as though they are admitting "defeat": their child might be less than perfect. Not true! Most children have trouble understanding a lesson the first time around, and there is something to be said about taking the extra step to ensure that your child not only understand the material but also feels confident discussing it in the classroom. It is often very difficult for a teacher to give their full attention to one student in particular, so regardless of how hard they try to keep their students in line with the classroom pace there will be some that need added resource of tutoring.

It is also beneficial to hire a tutor when the student may understand the material, but have difficulty with the homework. It can often times be a lack of organization and study skills, which a tutor can help to structure. Practice and preparation, along with a routine, are vital in your child's academic success in the future. Keeping up with this structure over the summer is particularly important, so your child has adequate time to catch up and adapt before the new school year.

The three most important things to look for in a tutor that will work for YOUR child: teaching style, background, and the goals you hope to achieve in the time that they are working together.

Alter Ego Concierge is pleased to offer Chicago's top teachers, academic leaders, and professionals in our tutoring division. To learn more, contact us at 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Housekeepers Needed in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Looking for several highly experienced, top-notch housekeepers for clients in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this summer. These positions are temporary for the summer, but could turn into full time/permanent placements for the right candidates. Must have all of Alter Ego Concierge's minimum requirements to apply, and must be ready to start by Memorial Day. Please note, many of these positions will require occasional weekend hours.

Email to apply or call us at 312-802-2337. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tips For Communicating With Caregivers

Often when a domestic employee decides to leave a job, employers are often left wondering why and what they could have done differently to make them stay. Sometimes, it's just time for a professional change, or maybe a personal one. However, there are a few instances when the writing is on the wall, and the problem is usually the result of poor communication. Fix it now before it's too late with these simple tips:

1.) Listen. Pay attention. Follow through on promises you make during the conversation.
2.) Everything should be in writing. There is little room for error or misunderstanding when everything is laid out.
3.) Make yourself approachable & available. Give them the respect they deserve by making time to check in.
4.) Utilize your human resources team: us! Since it can be difficult to navigate such a close working relationship, don't hesitate to reach out to a third party for advice on handing tricky times.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Out With The Cold...

Today isn't the best day in Chicago to be thinking about Spring weather (and cleaning), but after a nice Spring Break we're in the mood for some organizing. There's nothing more liberating than tossing out the old and decluttering both your home & mind. We asked our top housekeepers & household organizers for their favorite tips on preparing your home for beautiful weather:

1.) "Donate the old. You'll feel much better about cleaning out your home if you know that your old treasures are going to a better cause than the garbage can."
2.) "Shred the paper. Stacks of mail waiting to be sorted, old bills, and even various cards can quickly accumulate to large piles of paper. Most of these we don't need, but save anyways--though the only thing we're saving is dust bunnies. Take a half hour to sort and shred--your desk will start to organize ITSELF before you know it."
3.) "Switch it up. Clean out your air filters, switch your ceiling fan blades, rotate your mattress! It's important to rotate these to keep them fresh, and air them out."
4.) "One word: windows." They surround your house. They are your eyes to the outside. They let the sun shine through. Dirty windows can be such a telltale sign of a poorly kept house. A few times a year, have your windows professionally cleaned."
5.) "Leave It Up To Pro's. We don't have the same sentimentality as you may, and can separate junk from what is actually worth keeping. Meanwhile, you can be out enjoying the sunshine!"

Live In Candidates Needed!

Alter Ego Concierge is currently filling several LIVE IN nannies and housekeepers for families in Chicago. Candidate must have previous live in experience (minimum of 3 years), able to begin a position in the next 4 weeks, and have excellent references. Email your resume to to apply. Salaries are all DOE.