Wednesday

Why is it so hard for a nanny to ask directly for a raise?

Received Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Perspective & Opinion
I have a question for nannies. In my experience of having for the most part really wonderful nannies for the last 8 years there is one aspect of the relationship that mystifies me. None of these women has been direct about the fact that they want a raise. I've given annual raises and bonuses but I always feel like they're hinting that they would like more (saying things like "my friend gets $___ a week but money's not the most important thing . . . I really love this baby" but I still feel like they would like more money which I have no problem with. It's a free market and people should be able to ask for what they think they deserve and if I can afford it I'll do it, if not then not and they can then decide what to do. But I'm just puzzled by the hinting. Why not just directly ask?

29 comments:

Annie said...

In many ways being a nanny is not like any other job. Love is a factor, and it's very difficult for people to talk about money in that kind of situation.

I encourage all of my friends who are caregivers to be totally direct about their needs to their employers, but you are totally right that most nannies find it a difficult topic to address (and in my experience, most moms are in that boat as well).

If you feel you're paying competitive wages, I don't think you should worry too much about it. If your nanny is really persistent with the passive aggressive attempts to talk about money, why don't you be the one to be direct about the subject. If she says so-and-so makes more, ask her immediately if she thinks the two of you should sit down and talk about a raise.

Anonymous said...

As a nanny I can tell you I have problems with this. I recently accepted a new position and told them upfront about what I wanted to make, but kept reassuring them that I was open to negotiation.

I think I am afraid that if I ask for more than what they family can afford to or wants to pay that they will go elsewhere. I, like most nannies, become really attached to the children and the family as a whole. I would hate the thought of them replacing my because I wanted more money.

At the same time, I have worked in daycares in the past where I had no reservations about telling them what I expected to be paid and asking for a raise when I felt I deserved one.

I wish I could be of more help, but the only thing I can come up with if the fear of being replaced.

Anonymous said...

I think the very personal nature of the job is the reason. You love the children. You have a warm relationship with the parents who refer to you as a member of the family. It almost feels disloyal to ask for more money. It is very different than working in the business world.
I have always started jobs at the top of the pay scale, and I've received raises and bonuses that I felt were timely and fair. I think if I felt I was overdue for a raise, or it was too little, I might feel either that my employer wasn't happy with the job I was doing, or didn't appreciate what I did.
A nanny

Anonymous said...

Don't assume your nanny is merely "hinting." She may be telling the truth and is just being honest about it. Feel good that she loves your child.
Why don't you tell us what you are paying her and in what part of the country you live in and we will be the judge!

Anonymous said...

1. they dont want to ask because of a past cheap family.
2. they dont want teh family that cant aford quality to go to a baby beater because the price was too high.

Anonymous said...

I think I have the answer you are looking for. Years ago, I had Mary Poppins in my grasp. She was everything you hear about. Funny, energetic, smart, hardworking, etc. The kid's loved her. She left to go work for another family. I was so hurt because I regarded her to be like a member of the family. It took years before I understood why she had left. She went to work for another family where she could interview with no connection to the family and state her salary request/demand in a business like fashion. She later told me that she would never have asked me for a raise because it was hard to associate money or wanting more money with caring for my children (whom she really loved). I'm glad our relationship survived that because she is a great person to know and has even found us several nannies in the years that she has been gone. What I would reccomend to you is that you be in charge of salaries and raises. If someone is doing a great job and you can afford to give them a raise, give them a raise. Don't make them ask or gravel. You don't need to do this formally, but periodically review her performance (between you spouse and yourself) and as long as she likes her job, I would say do whatever you can to keep her. That was my experience.

I also had a no good nanny at one time who was the laziest person I have ever met in my life. Taking our boys to the park meant nothing more than driving to the park and plopping on a bench. Taking them outside meant looking for a chair or curb to sit on. I had the laugh of my life when she came home from the park and told me that a mother had been asking how much she made and told her that she was great and if she wanted to come and work for her, she would gladly pay her more. I mean don't let your nanny play you for a fool. I know a lot of crafty people in every field and sometimes the ones you least expect are playing you like a fool!

Having said all that, I wish I had been more generous. I could have been. I just wasn't thinking! But do expect that your nanny knows her worth.

Anonymous said...

Umm-because asking for money is uncomfortable. I mean, in the business world-do you just walk into your bosses office and say "hey, I want more money". No-people don't do that-and, persoanlly, I think it would be tacky if they did!

shel said...

i definitely agree with what the others say in regards to the personal nature of the job.

i think it's hard in any job to go and straightforwardly ask for a raise. it's even harder in a nanny position due to the personal nature. annie summed it up perfectly.

it's been made a little easier to talk about financial matters with a family when they let me know from day one that it's an open conversation. knowing that they will be willing to hear what i have to say helps greatly.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank everyone for their responses. They make perfect sense and I will now take the initiative and bring up the salary issue myself so that everyone is happy. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think for the most part, as a hard working person in the corporate world, I have always thought that if I had to ask for a raise, then I probably didn't deserve it. Maybe nanny is just attempting (rather passive agressively) to reference other raises/salaries so something clicks with you. I can't say I like that but I think I would like even less if someone demanded a raise from me.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the last post: many people who deserve raises are not given them! What world do you live in? Many bosses, if they can get away with it, would never give raises. Although you live in "the corporate world" you are very naive.

jmt said...

I have had jobs in the corporate and private business world and even when there were scheduled raises I always had to be on top of my own raise. One manager I had put off my review for a year, until the regional mgr. threatened to fire him. I finally got a $1300 retroactive raise check. Thank goodness is was a corporate chain with rules or I, as a very young newbie in the world, would have just let it go and never gotten my money. After that I learned that if I want more money it's my job to get it by asking, and failing that, leaving. Remember that business is business. Love for the kids is a great perk, but it's still your profession, and you need to take care of your future first.
You don't get what you don't ask for.

os said...

I am a nanny and have always worked for wealthy parents. I have for the most had good relationships with them. I do think that sometimes wealthy people are a bit clueless. The idea of "saving up" for a jacket was something that my last employer laughed at. Not because she was mean, she just didn't get it. So don't expect them to get pay raises either. Many of these rich people have never worked a day in their life. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

OP needs a lesson in psychology 101.

Anonymous said...

jmt, I usually agree with your comments, but in this case, I have to disagree. Many parents react very negatively when nannies ask for a raise. Every so often on a parenting board I visit, a mom will post a "nanny asked for a raise, what would you do" type question. The majority of responses are in the general nature of find a new nanny and fire her.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to money and paying employees and being paid, few are truly "clueless" Parents who can afford a fair wage and undepay a great nanny are likley doing so because they think they can get over on their nanny and they may for a while. But quality childcare is in great demand and if you aren't compensating your great nanny to the best of your ability yet know he/she is well worth it you will be sorry. A family will come along and pay nanny what he/she is worth. I have several extremely generous families I work with and I have never had to ask for a raise. Every year, I get a fair increase, a generous holiday bonus and periodic little extra bonuses throughout the year. If they reserve me for 5 hours and only stay out three they still pay me for 5. If my night's fee comes to 72 dollars they will round up 80.00 And, if I sit on a Saturday night they pay a premium rate, all without me ever asking for any of it. Mind you I am in a wealthy area just outside Manhattan so the money is definitely there and I know not all parents can afford this. Remember parents, we nannies are in your house, we know your profession, where you work, we see your furnishings, your clothes and your cars. If you are skipping off to work in your Prada shoes with your Vesace handbag and getting into your BMW SUV chances are you can afford to pay a decent wage. We shouldn't have to ask for a raise. If the parents are not on that level of income nanny knows this and is probably scared to bring it up for fear he/she will lose her job or change a nice relationship. Plus, as others have said, there is the human factor and feeling like a Judas asking for more money when you love your charges. Parents should give the best increase they can afford without being asked if nanny deserves it. Annually is very fair and the standard in most companies. Open a dialogue with nanny about the kind of job they are doing. If you really can't afford a weekely increase, make sure you are as generous as possible at year end and nanny's birthday. And slipping nanny a little tip every now and then can go a long way as well.

jmt said...

9:09 I believe you that many employers react negatively to nannies asking for a raise. The "What would you do?" posts you refer to are laughable. I can only imagine the out-of-touch parents trying very hard (or not at all)to imagine "what ever could have made the nanny ask for a raise?" What cheek!
Nannies aren't air plants that just get misted once a week. They don't live in a vaccuum. They need money to live. They are employees, just as we all are.
I think if more nannies took responsibility for their own wage rates then parents would begin to see them as professional people. However, I suspect the people you know who consider their nanny dispensable and exchangeable if they get uppity aren't hiring very good nannies.
Be well, all.

Lorenza said...

It's a job and if you think you deserve a raise in any job or are underpaid, speak up for heavens sakes. It is a little intimidating but so is going to the dentist, right?

Anonymous said...

Nannies can be turned on REAL quick if they dare ask about a raise. Even when they think they are in a good employment situation. Even if they get the raise, the employer seems to change her opinion of the nanny!

Lorenza said...

In today's world, I think you really have to stand up for yourself and believe in your own self-worth. That's too bad employers would hold giving a well-deserved raise against the nanny. Even if the relationship is personal, it is still a career for the nanny.

Anonymous said...

we think the relationship with the family could change because of that, or simply asking for a raise, u can lose your job. Its just FEAR.

Anonymous said...

Asking for a raise from a boss can be a sticky issue. No matter where you are, money is always a strange issue. To me, it seems that asking for a raise from a boss as a "regular" job is a little easier because it's an established business that has funds usually set aside for things like that. However, dealing directly with a family and caring for their children, it's very nerve racking to ask for more money in regards to caring for children (whom by then the nanny has fallen in love with). I applaud you for being so gracious and just giving out the raises or bonuses as necessary, I wish more parents would do that. However, most nannies/babysitters you come in contact with will always be squeemish about money.

Anonymous said...

I just had this problem. I needed a raise desperatly but couldn't ask. The parents are more than happy to give me what I need, but because I have built a friendship with them it made it extremely hard. Finally when we were alone one day while baby was sleeping I sort of told her the position I was in and she had no problem giving me a raise.

Anonymous said...

i have been working fo rthe same person for 6 yrs and no raise 2 kids. she is cheap and yet i love those kids to death. she buys the most expensive stuff but refuses t pay fo rovertime. i have wanted to leave for a long time but staay because of the kids. but i dunno

Anonymous said...

It is always difficult and uncomfortable asking for more money. My last nanny job I was actually fired on my answering machine over the weekend because I wanted further discussion on the new contract my nanny family had written up. However, in that situation, the mom was always jealous of me and wanted to put the child in daycare, which she did, as soon as she fired me. The family I work for now underpays me and I am afraid to say anything about it!

cali mom said...

Having worked for many companies where in retrospect, I can see were run by major a$$holes, I'd say whatever job you're in, if you are doing a good job, receiving positive feedback, are well respected by coworkers (or in this case, well loved by the children) and your boss fires you or tuns nasty simply because you ask for a raise once a year, that's someone you don't want to work for anyway. The reasoning of staying in a job where they are too cheap to consider your skills, worth or your market value when they obviously can afford to pay you apprpriately because you love the kids so much seems to me to be on the level of staying in an abusive or unhealthy relationship because you love the guy, in spite of his abuse. You need to take care of your own life! There are other kids to love of the parents can't respect you.

Anonymous said...

I also am in desperate need of some advice...
I have been working for a family for over 8 years they are a dear family friend. I nanny from April-September. I go on vacation every year in my off season (December) and they don't pay me. Should they? My biggest dilema is that I am only making $6 an hour. The family has an annual income of over $300,000. I feel used. I am too afraid to ask for a raise, how should I go about this?

Anonymous said...

For the person making $6/hr. That is horrible. I would speak up if it were that bad. You should at least be making minimum wage. I am in the same boat. I have been with this family almost 2 years and no raise. I know they have had some financial difficulties, but lately they have been buying very expensive items. I was even promised a raise and never received one. I love the kid, but I am starting to feel unappreciated. Especially, since the child is older and there are more responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

Given the bad economy and all factors within, I personally think as a nanny, there is always a chance for me to create a bad atmosphere at work if I ask for a raise. Not to mention, I kept the same rate for 3 years. When I went to be interviewed by my current family, I told them i would keep the same rate for consideration, since they got a little affected at their work. Next thing, they are "negotiating" for less, and I had to settle for it, since I wasn't able to find any other job offer. So now I'm stuck with a very easy going family, with a beautiful, funny and happy little boy, but they are trying to save money at all situations involving my job. It's complicated!!!