Good Nanny or Bad Nanny? You can choose…
Initially, finding a nanny on your own may sound simple, but using a nanny recruitment agency may avoid major headaches in the long run – and help you steer clear of bad nannies. Here’s why:
I spoke to couple of women recently who were both busy running businesses and had hired nannies to look after their children while they worked. One was extremely happy with her nanny, citing her as an angel who would not only look after the kids, but help tidy and clean, and would prepare a meal for the whole family on some evenings. The other woman looked sheepish. She said, ‘My nanny is a nightmare and I don’t know what to do! I hired her privately thinking it was easier than using a nanny recruitment agency.’ She was annoyed because the nanny gave the kids iPads instead of playing with them, seemed grumpy, and refused to do anything around the house, instead spending hours on her phone.
I hear versions of both these nannies all the time. I call them Good Nanny and Bad Nanny. I asked the mum with Bad Nanny what she planned to do, and she had no answer. She was embarrassed to be honest. She’s an intelligent, successful business woman, and felt she had fallen into this situation and couldn’t see a way out.
It’s easy to simply say fire the Bad Nanny and start again. Well, for a start there are HR issues to deal with. The woman didn’t know where she stood and didn’t know where to turn.
Hiring a nanny may sound simple, but if you haven’t done it before there are a few issues to consider before you end up like the mum who hired Bad Nanny.
Have you thought about how you’ll handle payment? Do you know what the tax issues of hiring a nanny are? Or whether you will need to contribute to a pension fund? What would you do if an HR problem arises like a personality clash or if the nanny doesn’t do what you ask? Or what if your needs change – your working hours or if your children start nursery or school – how would you address the new set up with the nanny?
It’s issues like these that a good nanny recruitment agency can deal with, without you needing to stress. So we wonder why a lot of otherwise very sensible people choose to hire a nanny under the table, so to speak, simply paying them cash every week, when these sorts of consequences can mean a lot of stress. Because, aside from being illegal, that route tends to cause more problems than it solves.
Keep things above board with a nanny recruitment agency
It may seem more effort but hiring a nanny through a reputable nanny recruitment agency is the best place to start. At 14fiftyseven, we can help set up all the tricky bits, such as payment, tax, and working conditions. We can also assist with interview techniques, too, and HR issues. And we are also very picky about which candidates we place.
The way we hire your perfect nanny is by using our extensive contacts, by headhunting, and by knowing what questions to ask – first you, and also the candidate. We very rarely get the right fit just by posting a job ad. A good nanny recruitment agency is all about its connections.
Our USP is that many of our nannies (and other household staff) are flexible and willing to take on different tasks in the house. But the job description must be clear up front. We don’t hire people who have the attitude of, ‘That’s not my job.’ But equally we make sure employers offer fair working conditions. We don’t expect people to work 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week.
What we do, before even looking for a nanny, is to speak to clients in detail to find out what they want from a nanny. Sometimes, as our clients lead busy lives, they wonder why we want to talk to them in depth at the beginning of the process. But I can assure anyone that it’s this conversation that leads to us hiring the right person. Every home is different, every client’s needs are different. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all nanny. As in all jobs, good lines of communication are vital. At 14fiftyseven, we believe a good nanny recruitment agency should give advice on how to set up employee appraisals so that any issues get aired along the way.
I spoke to Sarah, a nanny of pre-school children, and co-founder of Pocket Nannies, who agrees. ‘Communication is always important. I think if you’re simply expected to do jobs that haven’t been agreed then resentment can build up. For example, if you go to wash the children’s clothes but the machine is full of your employer’s clothes – do you simply leave the clothes in a basket or hang them up? I would hang them, but I do know others who wouldn’t. If it happened every day, I would speak to the employer. There has to be a degree of flexibility on both sides.’
Sarah is a Norland-trained nanny, with a very child-centred approach. She’s a dedicated and friendly nanny, happy in her job because she knows the parameters. She cooks for the children, but isn’t expected to cook for the family, for example. These may seem like small issues to the uninitiated, but unless you set out what’s expected upfront with your nanny recruitment agency you’re in for resentment and trouble. Sarah says, ‘My advice is go into the job as you mean to go on.’
Our advice is give 14fiftyseven a call and avoid hiring Bad Nanny. We take the worry away. You become safe in the knowledge that everything is above board and legal with a nanny recruitment agency, and that in itself can help ease tension.
Susie Osborough, Director
14fiftyseven. Because we’ve been there.