Top Ten Reasons that Nannies Leave Their Positions: Reason #5
5) The family underpays the nanny.
Nannies are typically not very good negotiators. The best nannies are in the childcare profession because they truly love children, not because they’re hoping to make a lot of money. However, they need a secure income so they can practice the profession they love. Nannies are frequently not highly assertive and many are uncomfortable discussing money. Many parents work in professions where tough negotiation skills are highly rewarded. It’s just part of their job, and they’re very comfortable negotiating the “best deal” in their business relationships. They expect to negotiate and don’t realize that in the process of hiring their nanny, they may “out-negotiate” her and hire her at a great rate, but they may be the ones who lose out in the end.
Under pressure, a nanny may agree to a lower pay rate than she feels is fair or can afford. She may realize that the offered rate is lower than the market rate in her area, but she agrees to take the position because she either needs to start a job right away, because she does not have the skills to assert herself, or because in her culture she is conditioned to please authority. The parent is focused on getting the cheapest rate and is proud to have gotten such a good deal. The parent may overlook the nanny’s subtle cues that would alert them that she is not happy with the offered pay rate and not truly committing to their job long term, even if she accepts their offer. Many families erroneously assume that if the nanny were unhappy with her pay she would ask for more. Some will. Many more will not, for reasons listed above.
In many instances where a highly qualified nanny is paid below the market rate, she may quietly seek out another position without saying a word. This behavior may be accepted in her culture, and she is not trying to deceive anyone. I always explain to a family that I would not place a nanny below the market rate, because the nanny would not stay, and we want to make solid nanny placements that last long term. This is the best situation for the family, and especially for the children.
When a good nanny feels she is underpaid, it is fairly easy for her to find another position, even in a poor economy. Good nannies are always in demand. She can call an agency; she can meet other families while she is at the park; she can send out feelers through her other nanny friends. A good nanny is hard to find, and families are always looking for good nannies. A very good nanny probably genuinely love the children for whom she cares, (a fact some families exploit) but she also has her own family and future to take care of. If she is underpaid and doesn’t feel comfortable bringing this up, her employer (and, more importantly, the children) come to love and depend on her. Suddenly, her mother in another country or city falls ill and she needs to go. This is not a scenario a family wants to experience. But it can happen when a nanny is overworked and underpaid. A family may never know why she really left, which is very sad for all involved, because it could have been avoided. The cost to the family of finding another nanny is enormous in terms of time, cost, and emotional energy. The emotional cost to the children is the most important of all.
To get more tips on hiring and retaining a nanny go to: www.safeandsoundnannies.com
Dr. Ann Wycoff is founder of Safe and Sound Nannies, a full service agency, and The Nanny Answer, an online, do-it-yourself nanny screening service.