When we follow up with our clients and nannies once their employment relationship has begun sometimes there are problems to address in the first three to four months. The most prevalent problem I encounter is a break down in communication.
We always recommend that both our clients and nannies take a business approach to their employment relationship at the core of which is establishing an employment contract. Other helpful aids are a nanny journal, childcare profiles and scheduled brief meetings to discuss the position (including a three month performance review).
Such an agreement should limit misunderstandings regarding employment conditions, making sure that all parties are on the same page now and in the future. Issues covered in the employment contract can include salary, benefits, hours of work, main duties and responsibilities, vacation entitlements, use of a vehicle and travel with the family.
Most nannies we interview like the idea of using a nanny journal. The purpose of this journal is to encourage communication between employer and employee.
If this isn’t possible introduce a diary system which allows the nanny to record the events of the day including appointments, meals, social outings, sleep times and medications as well as the child’s developmental steps.
A child profile is designed to ease your child and your nanny through the initial transition period. You can download this form directly form our website if you are a member. These forms address the child’s eating habits, preferred activities, sleeping routine and the parent’s philosophy with regard to discipline, safety and nutrition
Schedule brief meetings
Many nannies cite poor communication as a reason for leaving a position. So it is important to take time at the beginning and the end of each day (in the first two weeks) to meet with your nanny briefly. If possible do this when the children are not able to hear this discussion, especially if they are older. After this initial period is over consider a weekly review which involves an informal discussion allowing both parties to give and receive feedback.
Provide positive feedback and praise for a job well done; conversely, if you are unhappy in any way with the nannies performance, discuss this immediately.
These meeting can gradually become less frequent as your confidence and trust in your nanny increases over time.
Although all of the above suggestions are useful it is important, during the interview and screening period to thoroughly assess your nanny with regard to her communication skills. You may want to ask situational questions to asses the applicant’s ability to communicate. Discuss a negative scenario that you may have experienced with past caregivers and ask the applicant how they would handle the situation and communicate to resolve it. When checking references always ask how the nanny communicated with the parents and the children.
Open and honest communication is extremely important in any employment situation. It is especially important when you hire a nanny. Small misunderstanding can often lead to more problematic ones due to lack of communication.