Sunday, April 13, 2014

Is There a Right Way to Give Notice?

Whether a nanny works at a job full time or part time, whether she stays a year or 10 years, when the time comes for whatever reason, for her to move on, it is seldom an easy goodbye.
I don’t know the statistics I just know my experience in talking to other nannies that goodbye is such a hard thing to say.
It seems that no matter how hard we plan, no matter how we try to figure out the right way to do it, it is just so difficult.
I have talked a lot about how hard it is for nannies to be told that their job is ending but today I want to talk about nannies who choose to leave.
Sometimes nannies choose to leave because the children have grown beyond their level of expertise, sometimes they leave because they feel they have a different parenting philosophy, sometimes they make a career change, or their spouse gets transferred or they get a better job offer….there are lots of reasons nannies make the decision to leave.
More often than not the reason doesn’t matter. When a nanny leaves a family the parents usually feel rejected. Once the parents feel rejected a host of other emotions take hold and even in the best working relationship a good nanny employer relationship goes downhill very quickly.
So is there a good way to tell your nanny family you are leaving your job?
Most nannies out of a sense of loyalty to their employers and knowing how much their employers count on them try to give their employers as much notice as possible, but oftentimes it backfires.
A nanny decides to leave her job for whatever reason and she goes to her employer and gives them 6 weeks notice. The nanny does this because she wants to help the parents with the transition to a new caregiver. In a perfect world the nanny and the parent sit down and talk about how they might go about finding a new caregiver. The nanny might offer ideas, suggestions, agency names or even names of other nannies that might be available and together they come up with a plan. The nanny might suggest that they bring the new caregiver in for a 1 or 2 week part time overlap so that they can transition together.
The parents thank the nanny for her honesty and her help and tell her they will write her a beautiful letter of reference and work as a team to make the transition as smooth as possible. They might even say something like “We hope you will still be part of little Susie’s life and come back and visit and maybe even babysit on occasion”
I said a perfect world, right?
Well unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and when a nanny tells her employers that she is leaving, the parents hear one thing. No matter what you say the parents hear “I have decided that I no longer want to be part of your child’s life” The parents feel rejected. They feel that you have rejected them and their child and this elicits some very strong emotions. Rejection can trigger pain from other times of being rejected, even if you try not to feel hurt or angry, rejection triggers some very deep emotions. The first thing the parents do when they feel these deep emotions are to go in protective mode for their child. More often than not their reaction is not rational. Their reaction is to get you away from their child as quickly as possible so that you can’t inflict anymore pain.
At a time when you might be expecting an employer to thank you for helping care for their children, you instead find yourself unemployed…and even though unemployment laws differ from state to state, usually once you give notice, you have quit so you are not eligible for unemployment benefits and chances are that the parents will challenge it.
So….what’s a nanny to do?
The very best protection you can have in your job is to never work without a work agreement. A work agreement that very clearly defines the protocol for giving notice by either party. A work agreement may or may not hold up in a court of law but it is a trust agreement between two parties that states “This is what we agree to do”
In your work agreement a fair notice is anywhere from 2-6 weeks but the work agreement should state what happens if either party doesn’t give the proper notice.
You may also think about a clause that states if the nanny or family find job/care in that time, nanny will be paid for the duration of her agreement.  You may also want to agree upon a severance agreement if you have been with the family long term. When you are terminated for cause, severance is not usually paid.  For more details on work agreements I suggest you go Regarding and read their series by Kellie Geres : Anatomy of a Work Agreement

Other things that a nanny can do is to ask for a yearly review and ask her employers for a written evaluation that she can keep in her portfolio.
The best thing that you can do is to keep the lines of communication open with your employers. Always have your resume up to date, some money in the bank and a back up plan especially if you know that you will be giving notice on your job.
Just know that goodbyes are never easy, especially when they are initiated by you.
When giving notice on your job ends in a negative way, there is only so much you can do. You can try to make your employer understand that this is not personal, but they are not usually in an understanding frame of mind.
As always the best thing you can do is stay on the high road. Don’t badmouth your former employers in job interviews or on message boards and don’t let it stop you from being happy about the positive changes that are coming in your future.