By: Jessica Meydell

What is the most common issue between parent(s) and their employed nanny?

Are you surprised it’s communication? “In every aspect of life (both professional and personal), effective communication is important to success and happiness.” Communication between parents and nannies is vital, and I’d argue more imperative than most employer-employee relationships due to the nature and complexities of the role (the most vital of these being providing the best possible care to the child(ren)) and its environment. In what profession is the employer’s private home also regularly their employee’s place of work? More and more parents permanently working from home only further emphasizes the importance of clear, consistent, open communication between all parties involved in the day to day care of the household and children. Furthermore, unlike other employers, when a parent’s employee leaves for the day, the clock does not stop. Indeed, it takes a village to raise children, and with limited resources that provide a roadmap for parents and nannies to navigate the complexities of this unique employer-employee relationship, and the lack of comprehensive domestic employment laws aiding in enabling this, it’s no wonder communication is at the core of most conflicts between household employers and employees.

“Employers (and employees) can use personality tests to gain insight into how (they) prefer to process information, make decisions and interact with one another.” One of these tests uncovers your professional love language (languages of appreciation); languages and actions that make you feel most appreciated and supported by your employer (or employee). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Enneagram, and OCEAN are also commonly used personality tests used in the personal and professional environment. I kept asking myself, if personality tests like this improves employer-employee relationships and outcomes in these work environments, why wouldn’t it also produce similar results for parent-nanny relationships? Because being a household employee blends the lines of personal and professional environments, these tests can be used as a tool to effectively communicate, appreciate, and respect one another in an in-home setting.

As a career nanny and future parent myself, I always strive to advocate for the absolute best care for children that’s humanly possible. I believe one of the most important factors in achieving that goal is the effective and respectful communication between consistent caregivers (in my circle, as it pertains to my career, these are usually parents/guardians and nannies). Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the potential lack of effective communication can cause extreme tension between parents and nannies (e.g., quarantining together, more parents permanently working from home, increased burnout), and children are the ones that are often negatively impacted by the lack thereof. So I’m curious, can utilizing personality tests as tools in this professional relationship, provide any benefits to parents and household employees that may also trickle down to the child(ren) in primary care?

I’ve taken the first step of polling parents and nannies through various nationwide household employment Facebook groups in the US. The poll asked both parties: Do you believe sharing your professional love language would improve your relationship between you and your employee/employer? 79% checked, “yes”. 

Participants were then asked to check ways in which they believed their relationship would improve by sharing professional love languages.. The one most often chosen was, “improved communication,” followed by, “nanny feeling more appreciated by parent(s),” and, “deeper understanding”. Therefore, we can conclude that the majority of parents and nannies (polled) believe sharing their professional love languages would improve the relationship between one another, and improved communication is how they believe it would be impacted most. As professional caregivers and household employees, we understand that a respectful, communicative environment helps all members of the household thrive in healthy, happy environments, decreases stress and burnout, and helps develop lasting relationships for all parties. 

Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White (co-authors of, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace) emphasize, “people feel valued when appreciation is communicated regularly, expressed in the “language” and actions most important to the recipient, and communicated authentically.” While adding a tool like this may seem like another chore at first, it’s been proven effective at revealing preferences, and improving team building and communication throughout various work environments, and why I believe it could be worth the initial effort of making it a habit. Expressing appreciation to your employers/employee can be done authentically and in mere minutes throughout your week and will create a trickle effect of benefits in the future. 

A crucial piece to the foundation of a long-term, successful relationship between employers and household employees is clear, open communication. Like with other employer-employee relationships, parents and nannies (as well as other household employees) need tools and resources that provide opportunities to strengthen their communication and overall relationship so the child(ren) in their care receive the best quality of care. Uncovering and sharing personality test results, like professional love languages, are tools that can be explored and applied to greatly impact household employee relationships.

Let’s continue to communicate in the comments below – do you think sharing personality test outcomes with your employer/employee would improve your professional relationship, and what other resources or tools would you like to see more readily available in this industry?

Jess Meydell is an infant-toddler career nanny of 13 years, with a background and education in child development and human services. Advocating for children and human rights with an informed, open heart is what motivates her. She’s passionate about bringing awareness to the nanny-parent dynamic and advocating for expansion of education and support. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and four dogs.

Polls and studies were conducted solely from Nationwide Facebook Groups with the majority of participants being employees. if performed again, or more in depth, the study would include more targeted, dense, and specific metropolitan areas, with more employers engaged in the polls and polls presented on multiple different platforms.