When most parents hire a nanny, they want her to stay for years to come. It’s one of the biggest advantages of having a nanny: having long term, consistent quality childcare. However, that long term relationship doesn’t just happen. Both the parents and the nanny have to be on the same page goal-wise and work together on making the relationship successful. Here are some tips for encouraging your nanny to stay long term.
Let your nanny know how long you want her to stay for. Most parents say things like “Oh, we want you to stay until the kids go to college!” to their nannies. As nice as that is to hear, most nannies don’t take those comments as a real commitment or plan. If you truly want your nanny to stay long term, have a serious discussion about it. Let her know how long you plan on needing a nanny, how you think your needs will change as your children grow older and how you see her role changing along with your needs. Find out from her what her long term goals are and how she sees her role in your family for the years to come. No one can predict the future and the best laid plans can fall apart at the last minute. However, if you’re both on the same page from the beginning and you know each other’s wants and needs, chances are much better that things will work out as you want.
Talk about what will happen if your nanny has a child of her own. If you want to keep your nanny long term, chances are she may have kids of her own during that time. Think about how you want to handle the change in circumstance. Are you willing to bring in a long term temporary nanny if your nanny has to take an extended medical maternity leave? Are you comfortable with your nanny bringing her new baby to work with her? Are you hoping that the timing will work out so that she’ll be ready to go part-time as your kids enter school? While you can’t answer these questions in detail until you’re in the situation, you can have a frank conversation about the issue and make sure you’re on the same page in general. If you expect your nanny to take a three week maternity leave and then enroll her baby in day care, but she expects you to happily allow her to bring her baby to work with her, it’s better to know that now.
Provide a financial incentive. Money isn’t the reason a nanny takes a job or decides to stay in a job. However, money does matter. It’s one of the many factors she considers when making decisions about staying or leaving. Consider including a large bonus at the end of three, five or eight years. This will show the nanny that you’re serious about your long term commitment. It will also serve as an incentive for her to tough it out through the difficult times and keep other families form poaching her. While it won’t make her stay in a bad situation, it will encourage her to work hard to make the position work over the long haul.
Invest in the nanny/family relationship. The factor that most influences how long your nanny will stay is the health of your nanny/family relationship. Nannies rarely leave because of their relationship with the children. It’s almost always an issue with the parents that causes them to give notice or be fired. You can prevent this by investing the needed time and energy into the relationship. This is a great example of where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you tackle issues as them come up, keep the lines of communication open and are appreciative of all the great work she does, chances are your relationship will stay healthy and not fall victim to the normal nanny/parent pit falls.
Be a great employer. Your nanny will want to stay in your job if she’s treated well. Simple things can make a big difference in her job satisfaction. Say thank you for a job well done. Call if you’re going to be late and make sure she can stay. Support her discipline decisions. Don’t make her ask for her check; remember to write it out when it’s due. Keep her favorite snack stocked. Nannies notice these small acts and they count a great deal when she’s weighing the pros and cons of a job.