Welcoming a new nanny into your home the right way can make a huge difference to a child’s wellbeing and happiness. And it can also help to quickly establish a strong working relationship on which you’ll come to depend.
AoN guest post
The approach outlined comes from 30 years of tried and tested advice and tools. All in the name of matching incredible and individual nannies with lovely families.
“My name is Laura. I have nannied for 30 years. I have been fortunate to work for many fantastic families with (I think at my last count) 47 babies and children! I’ve worked all over the world for many different types of people and gained a heart bursting amount of experience.
I can offer advice and tips and often, more importantly, an ear that understands all things ‘nanny’. I do my best anyway!”
Our steps to welcoming a new nanny
Here we offer some simple steps and processes to follow – from the first interview to 3-months in – that can make a world of difference. And this is equally true for first-time appointments and families that are having to replace an in-role nanny.
Investing time and effort
From the off, finding a new nanny – or a nanny finding a new family – is a project in itself. Whether you are using nanny agencies or online search tools, it takes time and effort. And so it should!
They’re an essential addition to the family. Not only are they looking after the most precious family members, but they are also going to play an active role in day-to-day family dynamics.
Therefore, it stands to reason that you should put time and effort into welcoming the new nanny into your family. There’s little point in taking on a nanny, only to find out 3-months in that things aren’t right for either the family or the nanny.
Building and sharing your onboarding plan
Building an onboarding plan reduces the chances of the fit not being right. Also, by sharing the plan with prospective nannies, they know you recognise the importance of the role.
Top tip: When you’ve designed your onboarding plan, write it up and give it to any nannies you intend to interview. If you do this, both parties know what to expect and go into the process fully informed. And nannies will realise you are taking the whole process seriously. However, this should be adapted to suit the character of the family. Every family is different in its approach which is why families and nannies need to be matched accordingly. A nanny will learn a lot from an onboarding plan about a family!
The Rolls Royce approach
At first glance, this seems over-engineered. But if you think about what you’ll expect from the role and the duties of a nanny – it’s really not!
When building your onboarding plan, we hope this framework acts as a helpful start-point. And you can adapt the process to suit your family situation.
Step one to welcoming a new nanny: The first interview
To get to this point, you’ve likely seen the CV and decided that this nanny is worth a further look. Perhaps you’ve even had a telephone call or exchanged emails to arrange the first interview.
Do some prep:
This is your chance to meet nanny face-to-face and to ask some initial questions. It’s always good to do a bit of prep for this interview. Make sure you have a list of standard questions but also some that are specific to the nanny you are meeting.
And if you’re seeing several nannies, take some notes there and then. That way, there’s no confusion when you start to consider who is right for your family. Be aware that this may seem quite formal and slightly unnerving having the interviewer sitting opposite with a pen and paper jotting down ‘notes’! So it would be a good idea to say ‘I hope you don’t mind me jotting a few things down? It’s so I don’t miss anything!’. This will ease the interviewee.
So often, it is all about the family and child in the first interview. Of course, this is of vital importance and relevance…! However, as this is an early chance to get a personal first impression, I think it’s equally important for the parent to say (with a big smile!): ‘ tell me a little about yourself.. Do you have any brothers or sisters? Have you always lived in London? What sort of things do you like doing in your more than precious spare time?’ The parent can and should then provide similar information to the nanny. Ice broken.
First impressions made. The interviewer needs to allow the interviewee to take the stage as this must be a two-way conversation. So make sure that there are questions from both sides!
Talk about next steps:
And, towards the end of the interview, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d be interested in going onto the next stage. Asking a straightforward question at this stage could save you a lot of time further on.
Top Tip: Try and make this a 1-2-1 meeting so you can get to know each other and explore the working fit. But sometimes, little ones also attend as the family don’t have childcare – hence they need a nanny!
Attending: Ideally the nanny and one of the parents.
Interview duration: Around an hour (unless a non-starter!).
Pick a good time: Try not to run this at the very end of a long day as you neither party will get the most out of the interview.
Stick to your time: Try not to cancel and move it around – after all, you’re recruiting for a professional position. And the professional you want may be put off if this isn’t your priority.
Where to host it: Depending on who attends: A cafe is good for 1:1. And home setting if the child and the other parent is present. But wherever you choose, make sure it’s easy to find, you give the full address and that you advise the best means of getting there by public transport.
Adapting for COVID-19: Consider using an online video chat facility like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.
And finally, be safe: As with any first meeting, make sure you’ve shared the details of the meet-up with someone close i.e. when and where it’s taking place and what time you expect to finish.
Step two: Reference checking
At the end of the first interview – either right at the end or by email after you’ve made your top selections – is a great moment to request and provide written references.
Two from two
Ideally, two from a prospective nanny’s previous employer(s). And also two from the family’s previous nannies. These should be available from the time at which previous employers’ references are available. This makes the process more equal and reassuring to both parties.
They should be without personal details attached as the process is only just beginning and previous employers and nannies do not really want to be bombarded with calls!
Step three to welcoming a new nanny: The second interview
Both parties should be feeling positive and maybe even excited by this stage!
If either party is not feeling it, the foundation is unstable from the off. The best impressions are made by anyone when feeling excited about actually looking forward to going to work at silly o’clock on a Monday morning with a gorgeous child and a fab family! Everyone works better and puts more into their job if their heart is in it.
The bigger picture
Only a couple of nannies will likely make the second interview. If you don’t want surprises in the first few weeks of working together, here’s the time to cover off and explore the broader expectations of the role and how you would like to work together.
Meet the family
It’s also the time to introduce any other adult family members. As, in the case of couples, it’s vital that a new nanny gels with both parents of the household.
If this is the first time nanny meets the child, as possibly his or her nanny, see how they engage together. Even at this stage, the visible chemistry between the nanny and child is important.
NB: Following up on references.
It is at this stage that the personal details of certainly the last 2 references should be made available to both parties. That is previous employers and of course nannies!
Attending: The nanny and, if a couple, both parents and the little one(s) for sure!
Duration: Around half an hour to an hour (unless a non-starter!)
Where to host: This can be out of the home, but often this is best approached at home as it will give the nanny a view of her potential workplace. This is especially important for live-in nannies.
Adapting for COVID-19: This is difficult to adapt as it needs to take place at the nanny’s potential workplace. So it’s best to embrace the social distancing measures we have become accustomed to by keeping a safe distance and avoiding handshakes etc.
Sidebar: Remember the UK Right to work checks
Employing a nanny comes with responsibilities. And one of those is checking their right to work in the UK. We can either advise a service or you can follow the governments advice by clicking on the image below. Failure to do this can result in a significant fine, so please don’t forget to check!
Step four: The paid trial
You’ve likely whittled it down to one, you’ve checked their right to work and you’re now ready to invest a little money to see if this is THE ONE. And, just like the first interview, this is the nanny’s chance to do a final check that this family is going to be her new work home too.
Give nanny space
The paid trial (yes paid!) is all about the chemistry between the nanny and her charge(s). By all means check-in from time-to-time to see how it’s going. But try and avoid being a constant shadow as this will pressure the dynamic and likely won’t give a fair reflection of how things will be. After all, if a candidate has made it this far, then they need to be given the benefit of the doubt that they are good at their job!
Close with a chat
Towards the end, have an open chat and field any final questions. Fingers crossed, your journey to finding a new nanny is near complete. If you are really and truly feeling good and interested then it is a good idea to leave the trial saying something to the effect ‘I really enjoyed our time and think today was a success! Certainly for me! Many thanks for your time!’’ (always with a smile!) Again as mentioned before, this should be something openly said by both parties.
Attending: The nanny, her prospective charge(s) and a parent
Duration: Half a day
Where to host it: At home
Adapting for COVID-19: Consider an online virtual nannying session. Obviously this is hard with a baby with an unfamiliar face on a screen! However, there are ways to at least make some impression. This does depend on the age of the child, but the nanny could read a story or sing a song, or introduce a pet… Some interaction is better than none.
Step five: Meet the current nanny(s)
For some families, this doesn’t feel like a comfortable stage in the process. But for nannies, it’s gold. It gives them a headstart on what to expect and helps to ensure that any hints and tips are passed on. Inturn, this supports all-important continuity for the child and also to the family as a whole.
And don’t worry! Nannies are childcare professionals. Their biggest focus is the wellbeing of the children that they care for.
Top tip: Let the nannies sort this out together. In most instances, it will be a telephone call.
Attending: The nanny that’s leaving and/or, for larger households, other nannies that are in role
Duration: Leave that to the Nannies to arrange
Step six to welcoming a new nanny: The formal job offer
All being wonderful and right for all, the new prospective employer will provide a formal written ‘Offer of Employment’.
This should include:
A friendly appreciation of the chosen candidate. Words like ‘thrilled!’ and ‘delighted!’. This is a welcome after all!
Followed by formal stuff:
- Start date
- Hours of work / hourly rate in gross terms so it allows for tax and National Insurance
- Address of place of work
- Description of role
- Invitation for the nanny to ask any questions or voice any concerns before a contract is drawn up
Step seven: The contract
Typically, this is a generic document that can be tweaked where individually required so long as mutually agreeable. You can find examples of these online from a variety of nanny organisations.
Top tip: If you are using a nanny PAYE company like NannyTax, they will provide parents with a templated contract to adapt. But be mindful that this contract has to work for both parties. Presenting a contract that’s too one-sided could lead to difficult conversations early on!
It is extremely important that all parties concerned go through it with a fine tooth comb. This will avoid any regrets down the line and although the process will have been all very relaxed and friendly up to this stage, this is a job and there have to be rules and understandings in writing for everyone’s peace of mind.
Once read through (a good couple of times!) both parties sign and date it. All the information set within the Offer of Employment will be set within the contract (start date, salary etc). Signing and dating can be done electronically.
Step eight: The probation period and the handover
The handover should be a really great and totally worthwhile experience. It’s a real chance for either the leaving nanny or parent to showcase the role. To really show what it’s like to be doing this!! Equally it is the new nanny’s chance to shine! It’s a time of learning everyone’s ways (particularly the little one or ones!).
The very beginning is all about observing and not treading on any toes. Then gradually, little by little, being more active in whatever is happening. This can happen quickly or more gradually depending on how the relationship develops.
Handing over the reins
It’s important for the new nanny to be allowed to form their new role as they like. This may mean ‘alone time’ with the child. Often this makes their life easier and less confusing for the child. Too many cooks and all that! This is supposed to be a relaxed and smooth process.
The idea is that bit by bit the new nanny takes full charge by the end of the handover. Making whoever was in charge at the start… no longer in charge!
Step nine: Full appointment and the contract
You’ve done it! You’ve found the one. And now it’s time to let your new nanny, nanny!
Welcoming a new nanny your way
They will need guidance on where things are in the home relevant to their workspace and duties. And made to feel relaxed enough to make a cup of tea during the day and also have lunch and a break.
Sounds obvious but often overlooked!
And like with any professional position, it’s really important to create moments when the family or the nanny can bring up something that doesn’t feel right. Early on, it may even be a good idea to schedule a weekly moment to ask how it’s going. This is best kept as an informal chat rather than a sit down and making notes meeting. Both parties are likely to be more relaxed and open that way.
Addressing any problems early on and adapting is a far better solution than letting things build up. So do try and create an environment where both the nanny and the family can give feedback without fear of a frosty reception!
Smart matching made simple
Finally, good luck with your search and selection. And we hope Army of Nannies’ smart matching criteria has played a part in helping a fantastic nanny find an awesome nanny!