Handling conflict in the workplace

As a nanny conflict in the workplace needs to be handled as quickly and as smoothly as possible. You cannot avoid talking to your employer and allowing issues to snowball and fester will result in a you feeling resentful towards them or allowing your frustration to show in other ways. You need to remain calm and professional, make your point and back it up with evidence, and be prepared to work towards an agreement.

Although your relationship with the family is very personal try not to get overly upset or emotional in front of your employers. If you feel that you are likely to cry ask to be excused for a moment to collect yourself. Do not get angry or be overly forceful, but do not feel that you need to agree to everything just because they are your employers.

Conflict between you and your employer

Childcare philosophies

A frequent source of conflict is pressure from employers on your to do something that you feel your charge is not ready for, such as potty training, or that you as a professional do not do, such as smacking or biting as a form of discipline. You should never be forced to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, and you must always act in the best interests of the child. It is important in these situations to remain calm and professional, avoid criticising their parenting style and offer solutions that you find acceptable.

Employment rights

Many employers unintentionally breach nannies' employment rights, particularly in complex areas such as holiday, maternity and redundancy. If after doing your research or contacting us about your situation you feel that your employment rights are not being respected you should ask your employers for a meeting where you can inform them of your rights. Assume that your employers are acting in ignorance and give them the benefit of the doubt. If they persist in ignoring your basic rights then we can talk through your options for further action with you.

Unfair treatment

Sometimes you may feel that although your employer is acting legally they are treating you unfairly. Rather than suppressing your feelings and letting the situation fester, it is best to explain to your employers why you feel that they are acting in a way that is not fair to you. You may find that there were factors in their decision of which you were unaware, or you may feel that there is a pattern of unfair treatment and you wish to reconsider your options.

Harassment

Harassment is behaviour which causes you alarm or distress. This may be in the form of unwanted comments, persistent communication outside of working hours or any other kind of oppressive or unreasonable behaviour. If you feel that your are being harassed by one or both of your employers we urge you to contact us.

Conflict between you and a charge

There will be times when your relationship with your charge is not as smooth as you would wish. Minor, daily conflicts are part and parcel of being a nanny but conflict can become the default mode, and at that point it is time to involve your employers. You should not worry about your employers judging your professionalism. Frequent conflict is a result of a child pushing against boundaries or expectations of politeness and respect. By talking to your employers you will be able to present a united front if they back you up or renegotiate the issue that is at the root of the conflict. Children often do not realise that you are acting at their parents' request, particularly when the boundaries with their parents are different.

Conflict between your child and a charge

If you are a nanny who brings their own child to work you will know that dealing with conflicts between your child and your charge is to be expected. Disputes over who had which toy first and who gets to choose the story are normal. Your child may also resent having to follow the house rules set by your employers when you are at work. If your child takes a dislike to your charge, or your charge takes a dislike to your child, however, then the conflict becomes more serious and that can lead you into conflict with your employers. It is difficult to broach the subject without making it seem as though bringing your child is a bad idea. On the other hand if you do not act then your charge may tell your parents independently and you will be put on the spot. There is no magic answer to a conflict of this kind because there is no right or wrong side. It is up to you and your employer to see how you can resolve things, and if you can't you will need to decide whether you continue the arrangement or not.

Conflict between parents

Occasionally your employers may disagree and you find yourself caught in the crossfire. As both parents are your employers, and both parents are responsible for their child you might feel that you need to choose between them, and unwittingly have the casting vote. It is not part of your role to provide relationship counselling, however you may need to act in the interests of the child and encourage the parents to work together to find a solution. If they cannot find a solution then you will need to get them to at least agree what you do while you are in charge.

Conflict between parents in a nanny share

Part of the reason that nanny shares often command a higher salary is the increased potential for conflict between parents which can make your working life complicated. A nanny share works best when the parents have similar values and philosophies on childcare, or where they have agreed strict parameters. It is in everyone's interest for a share to be as equal as possible right from the start to reduce the possibility for conflict. You may feel loyalty to one of the families because you have worked for them for longer, or because you have a better relationship with them. Being caught between the sets of parents can be very uncomfortable and even if the role of mediator does not come naturally you will need to decide whether it is best for you to sit back and let the parents find an agreement between themselves, with the risk that it will negatively impact on your working life, or involve yourself to help them reach an agreement.