If you find a great nanny, you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep them. Rotating through nannies means continually going through the hassles of the hiring process and re-training employees. Who has time for that? Plus it’s a disruption for your children who may grow fond of their caregiver only to find out that they’re leaving and a new one is coming on board.
Sometimes, you can’t prevent a nanny from leaving. They may be moving, going back to school, changing careers or some other reason beyond your control.
However, nannies who are overworked, not trusted, underpaid and/or treated unprofessionally won’t remain long in your job.
Here are seven reasons why your nanny will quit and how you can prevent it from happening. Along the way, we’ll share key results of our recent nanny survey that show what nannies want out of their jobs and from the families that employ them.
1. Job creep
You hired a nanny to take care of your children. But then asked them to prepare dinner for when you get home. Then it was adding family laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping, and other errands. Nannies expect to care for your children, clean up after them during the day, and prepare their meals. That’s their role as it should be spelled out in your work agreement. They’re not housekeepers or personal attendants nor do many of them want to add those responsibilities. They’re professional caregivers and may leave your job if you want them to be more than that.
Solution: Look at your work agreement and assess the current duties of your nanny. Have you been adding non-child care tasks? If so, stop and keep them in their role as caregiver. Add new responsibilities only if mutually agreed upon and update your work agreement. You may want to consider a raise for your nanny if they start taking on additional obligations.
2. Lack of appreciation or recognition
In our recent survey of nannies, 57 percent said that appreciation for the work that they do is one of the top things they want from a family. When was the last time, through your words or actions, you made your nanny feel valued? Did you thank them for tending to a sick child or going above and beyond their caregiving duties? Did you recognize that they may have had a challenging day and offered words of encouragement?
Solution: Consider a small gift and/or something handmade by your children to recognize your nanny on their birthday and job anniversary. Here’s a list of nanny gift ideas for any occasion. But don’t feel like you need to wait for a special occasion to show your appreciation. Spontaneous gifts for a job well done – perhaps it’s some extra time off or you come home early from work to give your nanny the afternoon off – will always be welcomed. A year-end bonus, typically one week’s pay, or a holiday gift are also appreciated. But even simple, kind words can turn around a bad day and will go a long way to boosting your nanny’s job satisfaction. Perhaps offer to let them leave early one day with pay because of their flexibility when your work schedule was crazy.
3. Weak or no communication
According to our nanny survey, lack of communication with their employer was the number one reason – that was out of their control – why they would leave their job. Also, 72 percent of nannies said open and honest communications are what they want most from a family. It’s hard for a nanny to do their job if they get very little direction or feedback from the family. Or if the only reactions they get are critical without any constructive solutions. Your nanny can easily become frustrated and choose not to work in a negative environment.
Solution: Set up a regular schedule to communicate with your nanny. Have a daily check-in when you get home from work or have your nanny leave a log of their day. Once a week, have a longer discussion about how the job is going, concerns they or you may have, what’s going on with the children, and what may be coming up (starting potty training, learning to read, etc.).
Some ideas to try and improve communications with your nanny include:
- Leaving your nanny a list of tasks or “to dos” for the day
- Laying out your house rules (screen time, junk food, etc.)
- Tackling problems as soon as they arise
- Listening to your nanny as much as you talk
- Having a single focus for every conversation and not piling on your complaints
- Picking your battles so you stop nagging
Keep those lines of communication open to clear up any confusion and make your nanny feel like they have a voice.
4. Changing schedule
When you hired your nanny, you set their schedule in the work agreement. Even it’s not the same days and hours every week, you should be clear on when your nanny is expected to be at your home ready to work. Like all of us, nannies have lives outside of their jobs and make plans around their work schedule. They may have children of their own or even a second job. If you’re constantly asking them to come in early, stay late and/or work extra days, they may become frustrated or disgruntled because that forces them to alter their plans. What can be worse is telling them not to bother coming into work at all. If they don’t have guaranteed hours, that’s lost money they may have been relying on to take care of rent or pay bills.
Solution: There may not be an easy solution to this dilemma. Be upfront and honest with your nanny about the potential of a changing schedule and try to give them as much notice as possible if you need to alter their work hours. You may want to consider guaranteed hours so your nanny doesn’t lose pay if you need them for fewer hours during a week. But don’t be surprised if your continuously changing schedule forces your nanny to leave your job for a more stable situation.
5. Micro-managing their work
When hiring a nanny, you’ll want to find a caregiver with a personality that fits your family as well as a similar child-raising philosophy. You’re also hiring a professional who may have different experiences and learned techniques from working with other families. So there may be some differences in how you approach caring for children. Second-guessing or questioning their every decision shows a lack of trust and respect in their work and will lead to job dissatisfaction, which doesn’t help you, your nanny or your children. In fact, 69 percent of nannies in our survey said having the respect and trust of their nanny family is the best part of their job. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll find it from another family.
Solution: Give your nanny some freedom in how they do their job. If your children are safe and happy and your nanny is reliable and engaged, then minor differences in their caregiving approach are not worth creating a negative environment.
6. Wage and tax issues
Paying a nanny “off the books” and committing tax fraud are terrible ways to start a professional relationship with your employee. First, you didn’t attract the best candidates for your job. In our recent survey of nannies, 61 percent said it was at least “somewhat unlikely” they would take a job that didn’t pay them legally. You may find it hard enough to find a good nanny. By paying them illegally, you’ve reduced your pool of candidates by more than half. Top nannies know being paid legally offers them many benefits and protections that employees in traditional workplaces enjoy. By not treating your nanny like a professional, they will have lower job satisfaction. Disputes can also arise if there is a disagreement over hours worked, pay rate, overtime hours or your employee doesn’t get paid on time.
Solution: Pay your nanny legally. It’ll give you peace of mind and you can avoid costly fines and penalties for breaking the law. You may be able to do this yourself, use your accountant or find a payroll service. If you’re doing nanny taxes and payroll yourself, consider setting up regular electronic deposits into your nanny’s bank account. That way they get paid on time every pay period. A nanny payroll service will offer direct deposit, time tracking, and automatic tax withholdings to make payday easy.
7. Poor benefits
According to our nanny survey, poor benefits is a top reason your nanny will quit. They want to enjoy the benefits many traditional workers have like paid vacations, paid holidays, paid sick days, and more. It can be a competitive market for the top nannies and caregivers may look at a better benefits package as a reason to leave.
Solution: Consider offering a health insurance plan, which can also provide you some tax savings. Make sure your pay continues to match or exceed the going rate for nannies in your area who have similar experience and skills. Vacation time, paid-time off, and sick days are basic benefits most nannies receive.
A good time to revisit your nanny’s benefits is during their annual performance review. While this is an opportunity to set goals for the year, talk about personal job growth, look at areas of improvement, and understand ways you can help improve their job performance, you can also assess benefits and compensation and make adjustments as necessary.
If you have a great nanny, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep them on the job. It’s less disruption for you and your children. Offering a competitive benefits package will go a long way to retaining your best employees.
This is the third in a four-part series on termination and resignation. Read Firing Your Nanny the Right Way and Help! My Nanny Just Quit. Coming soon … what to do about your children’s “separation sadness.”
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