When families hire a nanny, they enter the relationship with the best of intentions to establish a mutually rewarding long term relationship between the nanny and the family. You have gone to a lot of effort to locate this nanny, what actions can you take as the nanny employer to insure your mutual satisfaction? What are the keys to nanny job satisfaction?
HomeWork Solutions consulted with the most successful nanny recruiters and this is what they told us:
- Remember to acknowledge good performance! Katie Provinziano, owner of Westside Nannies, Los Angeles advises "A simple "thank you" goes a long way. Everyone loves a little positive affirmation and nannies are no different. Just because it's someone's "job" doesn't mean that we shouldn't acknowledge and appreciate their work. Give your nanny positive feedback and let her know when she's doing a great job or exceeding your expectations. Combining that "thank you" with a free massage or gift card to her favorite restaurant for a job well done will go a long way in employee satisfaction!"
- Document the nanny job details. "A nanny work agreement that precisely spells out the compensation, benefits, job description and specific household rules related to security, social media and confidentiality is a vital tool for both the family and the nanny to avoid misunderstanding and conflict in the relationship," advises HomeWork Solutions' Kathleen Webb.
- Take the nanny employment relationship seriously and treat your nanny with respect. "Your nanny deserves to be treated as your peer, an equal. She plays a critical role in your household, a role that allows you to pursue other important interests secure in the knowledge that your children are in a safe and nurturing environment," advises Annie Davis, founder of Annie's Nannies in Seattle.
- Keep the nanny employment relationship professional. "Having an employee who works in your home can often be a slippery slope and you can fall from professional to too familiar very easily," suggests Katie Provinziano, owner of Westside Nannies, Los Angeles. "Refrain from asking your nanny about her latest date and, at the same time, don't over-share about your mother-in-law. If you wouldn't say it to a peer at work don't say it to your nanny. Keep the relationship warm, friendly, and professional - but don't overstep your boundaries."
- Respect working hours and relieve the nanny on time. "As an agency owner, working mom and nanny employer, I know as well as anyone how hard it is to be home on time. In the three years my nanny has worked for me, there have certainly been days when a timely arrival it's just not possible--I'm late, I call, and she understands--but I always try," share's Jami Dennis of ABC Nannies in Denver. "Being timely is respectful. Like any employee, it's important your nanny knows you that respect them, you respect their time, and you respect what they are contributing to your family. Treating your nanny with kindness, gratitude and a healthy dose of respect will go a long ways to ensure they are satisfied in their position for years to come."
- Always pay the nanny on time. "You wouldn't be happy if you had to remind your employer that today is payday, or if your employer forgot to pay you for your overtime," suggests HomeWork Solutions' Kathleen Webb. "Nannies particularly appreciate when the family uses a nanny payroll company with direct deposit payroll, as they don't need to run to the bank after you get home from work on Fridays to deposit the paycheck."
- Avoid micromanagement. "In any family/nanny employment relationship, there must be some flexibility and autonomy in order to foster a good long-term working environment," advises Marc Lenes, Placement Manager, Wee Care Nanny Agency, Stamford CT. "If you have an excellent nanny that is experienced, loving, proactive, reliable, trustworthy, etc., remember the adage, "one should not lose sight of the forest for the trees."
- Pre-fund a household petty cash jar, or provide your nanny a family credit card. Michael Girard, owner of Childcare Solutions, Beachwood, OH cautions "No wage earning employee should ever be expected to finance the costs of working for their employer. That goes double for wage earners who generally live from pay-check to paycheck to pay their own bills. You trust your nanny with your children – trust them with a check card or credit card to use to pay for the things you want them to purchase, whether it’s meals, groceries, activities or gas for the car they use to transport your kids. If you can’t provide a check card, make sure you leave them enough cash to cover all anticipated expenses – as well as the unanticipated things that tend to come up in the course of a week. Be sure to detail your expectations and agreements regarding expense in your work agreement so that there is no confusion and there are no misunderstandings."
“I cared for my last employers three active children for a year and I loved both the kids and the parents. But I declined to renew my employment with them beyond the first year because every week it was humiliating to have to ask for reimbursement for the cash I had to pay to cover their child care expenses. They were always late in returning my own money to me – and I often had to argue about the reimbursement amount. Even getting reimbursed a fair amount for the use of my car and gas became a problem. I was very sad to have to leave the position but I needed to move on to a family that respected me more.” – Christina H.
- Give direction! "We have found that the family/nanny relationships that last the longest are those with consistent and honest communication," Mom's Best Friend's Kim Winblood, Vice President (Dallas/Ft. Worth TX), reports. "The "daily download" is essential and should not be overlooked as it keeps both the parent and nanny accountable for realistic expectations and any correction that might be needed. In addition, at a minimum, quarterly and annual meetings should be on the calendar to discuss any adjustments needed due to the child’s growth or other factors that might have an effect on the initial job description. Nannies value and appreciate relationships with open communication."
- Maintain realistic expectations! ABC Nannies' Jami Dennis (Denver) advises "While you may feel like you've hired a Super Nanny, it's important to be realistic when it comes to what needs to be accomplished in a day. As a parent, if you couldn't get through the to-do list in 8 hours, it's unfair to expect your nanny to be able to do so. My advice, as a working mom with a full-time nanny, is to prioritize what's most important, show appreciation when your nanny does more than expected, and be realistic about what can be done in any given day."
A special thank you to the wonderful industry experts who have contributed to this post. These individuals have all assisted hundreds, if not thousands, of families in their careers and truly know what works and what doesn't. If you are searching for a nanny and want expert advice and guidance, HomeWork Solutions' recommends agencies who belong to the International Nanny Association or the APNA, industry professional associations that require members to adhere to a transparent code of conduct. These agencies are the crème de la crème and cannot be matched by do-it-yourself online options.