You’ve searched for the best nanny and you’ve finally found her. She’s like a precious diamond: she loves your kids and the kids love being with her. She communicates well, she’s creative, dependable, and calm with whatever situation is thrown her way. A good nanny is priceless and when you’ve found the right fit, you want to hold on tight. But what if another family hears about how amazing she is, and they try to lure her away?
This is called nanny poaching, otherwise known as nanny knapping and it happens frequently around the country, especially in large cities like Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York City where nannies congregate in public parks and playgrounds with their charges.
First realize that your nanny is your employee, and her first obligation is to herself and her family. She should and will have her own best interests as her primary concern, just as you do in your work life. Loyalty is earned, and becomes part of the employment "package."
So, how do you prevent nanny poaching from happening to you? Here are some tips.
Tip #1: Pay a competitive salary from the very get-go.
By paying your nanny a competitive wage from the beginning, she won’t be as tempted to consider other offers from families trying to approach her with a better offer. Families who pay fairly and legally are highly prized by nannies. A great salary with perks every now and then, such as an unexpected day off or a holiday bonus will go a long way in creating loyalty. Always remember to pay for any additional hours that you need from time to time.
Tip #2: Keep respect your top priority.
When you hire a nanny, you will need to begin building a solid foundation of trust. From day one, your nanny needs to feel respected and appreciated, and this should continue throughout each day that she’s a valued member of your family. A solid foundation based on mutual respect will discourage her from seeking out a different work environment that values her and what she has to offer. Hands down the best way to build this is by writing a nanny work agreement at time of hire. This should clearly outline base and overtime pay, benefits offered including specifics of paid holidays, vacation and sick time and job responsibilities. Respectfully and mutually establishing expectations up front is a strong foundation for respect and loyalty.
Tip #3: Guarantee hours.
Agreeing up front to pay your nanny a base wage for every week of the year is highly prized by nannies. Many have been in the situation where their employer's family heads off on vacation for a week or two and there is no paycheck at all. A nanny depends on her wage. Factor this expense in at the beginning of the relationship and document the guaranteed hours in the work agreement
Tip #5: Offer health insurance.
One way to really set yourself apart from other families that may be trying to scoop up your nanny for their own is to offer health insurance reimbursement. Even if you just pay a portion of your nanny’s health insurance premium, this can make a huge and lasting difference in her life. Properly structured this can be tax advantaged and both you and your nanny can make your nanny budget stretch further. Not to mention, if an unexpected illness or injury happens, it could negatively impact how she can care for your kids.
Tip #5: Don’t overwork her.
Regardless of how well you pay your nanny or what other perks the position offers, if you overwork her, keep adding to-dos to her daily routine, or take advantage of her services, she will burn out. This may make her more likely to accept another offer from someone else. Be sure you always talk about any increased responsibility and check in with her regularly to ensure that she is happy and not starting to feel burnt out. Your nanny makes valuable contributions to your family, so treating her as valuable is key. Never underestimate the value of words of appreciation!
With the right combination of respect, benefits, and pay, you can keep her employed with your family and never distracted by desperate nanny poachers.