So you’ve found the perfect nanny for your family and are ready to begin your nanny employer relationship. The hard work is over, right? Wrong. Like any relationship, the nanny and employer one will take a focused effort to build and maintain. While most nannies are dedicated and loyal employees, there are a few things that can really make them question their decision to accept employment with a family. As you move forward in your nanny employer relationship, strive to draw your nanny closer, not scare her away.
To keep the relationship moving forward, avoid doing these 10 things that are likely to scare your nanny away.
1. Use forceful language. When it comes to your nanny, the old adage is true: sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. While you’re the boss and you get to call the shots, work to ensure that your interactions with your nanny are respectful and considerate. Instead of saying “I’ll be late and I need you to stay,” say “I’m really sorry to be running late. If you could stay an extra 30 minutes, it would be a huge help.” Being aggressive or forceful may lead your nanny to wonder what she’s gotten herself into.
2. Talk down to her. Speaking to your nanny like she has potatoes for brains won’t earn you the nanny employer of the year award. Saying things like “Let me put this in simple terms for you” when giving instructions, or responding to your nanny by saying “We already thought of that” when she makes a suggestion, conveys an “I’m better than you attitude.” A condescending attitude does nothing but make your nanny feel like you think she’s stupid. But don’t worry, nannies who are treated this way tend to smarten up quickly… and leave their positions.
3. Expect her to clean up after your mess. Unless your nanny specifically agreed to take on housekeeping duties, don’t expect her to clean up after you. While most nannies will go above and beyond to ensure that their work space is cleaner when they leave than when they came in, taking advantage of your nanny could send her straight for the door.
4. Volunteer her to do things without asking her first. Volunteering your nanny to care for your visiting family’s children or committing your nanny to be in charge of the carpool without asking her first is asking for trouble. While most nannies are more than happy to go above and beyond and pitch in wherever needed, it’s the not asking them before volunteering them that drives them nuts. If you keep volunteering your nanny for things without giving her advance warning, it will result in her volunteering to help find you a new nanny.
5. Appear unapproachable. Telling your nanny “I don’t have time to talk to you right now” or asking your assistant to take a message whenever your nanny calls you at work sends the message that what she has to say is not important. Successful nanny and employer relationships are based on open and honest communication. If you don’t encourage communication and instead turn your nanny down whenever she tries to speak to you, you’re sending the message that you don’t value what she has to say. If you constantly show your nanny that you don’t care about her thoughts, eventually she’ll question how much she cares about working for you.
6. Call every five minutes. Nanny employers should absolutely make it a point to check in with their nanny in some form every day. But when parents call their nanny every few minutes all day, every day (which some really do), it sends the message to your nanny that she is not trusted. Nanny and employer relationships are built on trust. If a nanny doesn’t feel like she is able to gain your trust, she may consider finding a family whose trust she can more easily obtain.
7. Become infected with nanny envy. Feeling jealous that your nanny gets to spend time having fun with your child is only normal and natural. What’s not is constantly reminding your nanny that you are jealous of her. Repeatedly saying things like “I’m so sad my child loves you more” or “I wish there was a way I could stay home” may lead your nanny to believe that you may be thinking about staying home. If a nanny feels like her job may be in jeopardy because you’re having a hard time dealing with jealousy, she may start looking for a new one.
8. Friend her on Facebook. Your nanny has a life separate from her workplace and, chances are, she would really like to keep it that way. While being your nanny’s Facebook friend may seem like the reasonable thing for you to do, to some nannies it may be interpreted as “nanny stalking.” If your nanny feels like you are trying to keep tabs on her outside of the workplace, she may feel uncomfortable enough to reconsider working for you.
9. Get a new pet, without mentioning it first. While at first it may seem like getting a family pet has no impact on your nanny’s duties and responsibilities, the reality is that it does. If your nanny shows up to work on Monday morning and is greeted by a new puppy, it may be the last Monday she shows up. As the only adult home, your nanny will be left with no choice but to reinforce training, to feed the puppy, and to clean up after it. If you decide to purchase a puppy over the weekend, be sure to purchase the services of doggy daycare with it, at least until you talk to your nanny.
10. Refuse to pay her when your plans change. Nannies are typically paid 52 weeks per year. If you opt to go on a family vacation and leave your nanny at home, you are still responsible for paying her. If you decide to take a day off and call your nanny to tell her she doesn’t need to come in that day, your nanny deserves to be paid. When your nanny is available to work and, by no fault of her own, you decide not to use her services, she should be paid. Messing with your nanny’s paycheck is a surefire way to welcome conflict into your relationship. Most nannies have caring personalities and, by nature, don’t enjoy conflict. Rather than engaging in a battle of wills, your nanny many instead opt to walk away. Literally.
Most nannies want to grow close to their employers, and value their working relationships. They also value job security, and typically will do most anything to make a relationship work out. As you move forward in your nanny and employer relationship, be cautious about doing things that could push your nanny away. If you push your good nanny too far away, chances are, you could end up pushing her away for good.
P.S. This post was proposed to me for publication by Abby Nelson. I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information: