Breakup Etiquette for Nannies to their Families
We recently went into some of the reasons why families might need to sadly terminate their employment contract with their nannies, but what if it’s the other way around? Just like any job, sometimes things simply aren’t working out, and there could be a plethora of reasons why. This can be a really difficult conversation to have, but you can break it down in terms that make things easier. First, it’s important to identify some of the reasons that you might be feeling this is the best decision to make. We’ll go through some of the scenarios that might lead to such a decision, starting with the worst-case scenario and leading into some less severe cases, and then we will go over some suggestions on how to proceed with this conversation to your employer. Overall, it’s never easy to have to part ways with an employer, but there are certain times when it must be done, and ultimately only you can know for sure when a situation is no longer tenable for you for whatever reason. Regardless of the reason, it is important to stay optimistic about the future as you go through this period of change. After all, talented and experienced childcare professionals are always in demand, and there’s likely to be a family that’s much more suited to your professional style and preferences.
The Worst-Case Scenario
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that no matter what there are certain baseline expectations that every employer is responsible for providing an atmosphere where their employees feel safe, respected, and treated with dignity. If you ever feel that you’re in an environment where your professional boundaries are being crossed, or if you feel unsafe in any way, it’s important that you look out for your own well-being and part ways with that employer as soon as possible. We understand that it can be easy to form bonds with families, and that this can feel complicated for childcare professionals, but try to remember that you’re an employee at the end of the day and you are therefore entitled to certain rights within the workplace, respect and safety being at the top of that list. Being in the childcare industry is supposed to be an extremely rewarding and fun job, although it of course can have its challenges like any profession. However, unacceptable treatment from an employer is never okay. Though we are not able to give any kind of legal advice, there are rare cases where as an employee if and when your rights are not provided to you, it is important to use resources at your disposal to report indecent treatment or behavior. There is never an excuse for discrimination or mistreatment of any kind to an employee. Should you find yourself in this unfortunate circumstance, make use of your resources first and foremost to reach out for legal guidance, as certain situations have a severity beyond the scope of this blog.
An Imperfect Fit
On a much less severe note, there are times when the family you’re paired with is simply not a great fit for your experience. Sometimes, this is because of some sort of miscommunication upon hiring. Say, for instance, that you were hired as a nanny when in reality what the family needed was a Newborn Care Specialist. That is a highly specified professional within the umbrella of childcare professionals, and you may simply not wish to perform those duties should you feel inexperienced or uncomfortable with them. Among their many other contrasting responsibilities, while a nanny typically works with children of all ages, a NCS exclusively works with newborns. They are completely different skill-sets and require a completely different set of responsibilities. However, not every family understands or is well-versed in the nuances within the childcare industry, and it is okay to gently correct them if they have misunderstood the type of professional they should staff for the role that they need fulfilled. It is important in these cases to communicate clearly why you’re unable to perform the responsibilities so that the family can better understand why they need to search for perhaps a different kind of childcare professional to fit their needs. Especially for families on their first child or families that are new to the world of childcare professionals, it might be a bit of a learning curve for them. Try to remain patient with them as you initiate this discussion, and remember that being a parent can be stressful and confusing. With a little bit of empathy, a well-meaning family that has simply miscommunicated their needs should be able to understand why you’re no longer able to perform the responsibilities of the job. Feel free to also refer families to our blog or our website as well should they need more resources or should they require staffing help that can help to outline the nuances of the childcare industry.
Compensation Not Commensurate with Experience
Another reason why you might be thinking about leaving your position with a family is that you feel that your compensation is not commensurate with experience. First, please note that upon hiring it might be easiest for professional nannies and childcare professionals to reach out to a staffing firm such as A Perfect Fit to help make sure they’re properly placed with families whose needs match the experience of their childcare professional. In addition to that, nanny agencies can help tremendously with the sometimes confusing issue of negotiating fair pay. However, should you find yourself somehow in a position where you were either hired with a rate lower than expected, or even if you’ve been working for a family for a long time and have seen little to no pay increases, it is understandable that you feel that your services will be valued higher elsewhere. Should this be the case, try first bringing this to your employer directly. If you find everything else with your job adequate, besides the issue of pay of course, it makes sense to talk to your employer about this before making the final decision to leave. However, if you have been given another competitive offer with better benefits, it is of course understandable that you might leave your current position for the more lucrative one. After speaking with your employer about a potential raise, again this is assuming you don’t have the benefit of a staffing agency to intercede on such conversations, if your employer is still unwilling or unable to raise your pay it is completely normal and natural to seek employment elsewhere. Being an experienced childcare professional is often worth a premium, and it is the responsibility of good employers, in this case families, to remain competitive with their compensation offerings to hold onto talented and experienced childcare professionals. It is fair to bring that up in a calm and clear way if you’ve tried to raise the question of payment before-hand with your family but saw no change in compensation.
Approaching the Conversation
Although this can be a tough conversation to have, it is better for everyone in the long-term to end an employment contract that is no longer working for one or both parties. This enables both parties to find a different nanny, or in this case a different family, that better fits their needs. It might be helpful to point that out to your employer, and then clearly list the reasons why it isn’t a good fit if you feel comfortable enough doing so. This enables the family to then be more specific with their searches for a childcare provider, and it allows you to voice your needs and value as an employee directly. It is important to remain calm, professional, and make sure it’s clear that this is not personal, it’s simply a matter of professional expectations. Keeping the conversation short is also a good idea, as is being complimentary of your employer’s support thus far. If they’re a well-meaning family, it’s likely that they’ll understand the reasons why you might have to move on, and the conversation might even turn out to be more positive than you think.
Don’t forget that it might be helpful to obtain a reference from the family you intend on parting ways with. This further qualifies the importance of remaining calm and professional in approaching this conversation. Hopefully you’re not in a situation that is emotionally charged or unsafe in any way, in which case it is best to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. However if you’ve generally had a good experience working for this family but it’s not working out as of late for whatever reason, try to maintain a positive relationship with the family if you can. You should only burn a bridge with an employer if it’s completely unavoidable for certain severe instances outlined earlier. If you’re able to be professional for this final conversation, and show some genuine empathy for this family who might now need to find another childcare professional, possibly during an already stressful time in their life, try to be understanding. A little bit of empathy can go a long way. Perhaps recommend a fellow childcare professional to them who might be better suited to fit their needs. Having a positive reference from a family ensures that all the hard work you put into your job is reflected by your perception within the job market. It is okay to clarify with your employer during this conversation if they’re comfortable being listed as a reference, should you feel that such a request is appropriate. Though it might feel awkward at first to bring it up during this conversation, it would definitely be more awkward down the line should you lose touch with this employer – so it’s always best to go ahead and get it out of the way while you’re already having a face-to-face conversation. Of course, it goes without saying that if the situation you find yourself in is emotionally charged for whatever reason, it might be best to use your own discretion in asking for a reference. It’s just an important thing to keep in mind during this process. One last thing to remember is that the word-of-mouth perception of you as a childcare professional within your region has an incredibly high impact, so keep things professional and know that many parents have kids that go to the same school or participate in the same extracurricular activities. Therefore, it is important not to poison the well, so to speak, within your particular job market by leaving your family with a negative image of you. You can’t always control what people think of you, but having the utmost professionalism and respect for others will guide you through whatever tough conversations you might have to have throughout your career.
Have in mind the notice that you’re providing to your employer and delineate it clearly so that they’re not left in a lurch or confused about when they should begin their search for your replacement. It is recommended that you check your work agreement to see what notice is required for your position, keeping in mind that standard practice is to provide at least 2 weeks at minimum notice to your employer so that they’re able to get organized and find someone new in that time. Another great tip is to offer to train your replacement as well to make the transition a bit easier on families, and to foster positive feelings upon your exit. However, again, if a work environment is untenable because it is unsafe or you feel disrespected, it is okay to prioritize your mental, emotional, and physical health in these rare cases and separate yourself from an unsafe environment immediately.
Overall, while this conversation might not be the easiest one to have, there is nothing but a bright future ahead of you after it. As mentioned, it ends up working out best for everyone if a situation that is not making both parties happy comes to a close, as it enables families and nannies to truly find their perfect fit. And remember, we at A Perfect Fit are highly-trained in this area of expertise and are ready to help. Please reach out to us with any questions you might have about staffing and the like.