About the Author
Maddalone founded GTM in 1991 to specialize in household employment-beginning with eldercare providers, nannies, and private-service professionals. He evolved the business to include all household employment professions and more than three hundred referral partners throughout the United States. A New England Nanny, a faction of GTM, is a nanny agency that Maddalone has operated for fifteen years, placing thousands of child care providers and nannies throughout upstate New York. GTM is also the nation's premier household payroll and tax service, managing more than $250 million in payroll each year.
Maddalone conducts educational seminars throughout the country on the household employment industry, household human resources, household payroll taxes, IRS audits, tax compliance, and dependent care services for corporate employers. He is also a work/life dependent care consultant to the General Electric Company, a licensed health and life insurance agent in New York, and a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Involved with several prominent business organizations, including the executive training programs for Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) and Inc. Magazine, Birthing of Giants, and as president of the Albany Chapter of the Young Entrepreneur's Organization, Maddalone also contributes greatly to the community in which he lives-from coaching youth sports teams, mentoring local college entrepreneurs, and giving to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Maddalone is also heavily involved with industry associations, such as Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies, International Nanny Association, and serves on many committees. The eldest son of thirteen children, the importance of family is integral to Maddalone. He and his wife, Diane, reside in upstate New York with their three children.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from How to Hire a Nanny by Guy Maddalone © 2006
It is not easy to define household employer or household employee, because the terms are used in so many different ways-almost as many ways as there are household help professions. The United States Internal Revenue Service defines a household employer as any person who employs housekeepers, maids, gardeners, and others who work in and around an individual's private residence.A nanny is an example of such an employee. That is, a nanny is a household employee, stationed within the home, tasked with tending to a child's care.
In the United States, we tend to think of a nanny as a benevolent woman endowed with magical powers or a young woman spending time working as a nanny until something "better" comes along. In fact, a nanny is very different, and those of us with images of Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee in our heads need to understand the reality of a nanny's job.A nanny is a real person who has, over time, honed his or her talents and expertise in caring for children and in developing his or her chosen career.
New household employers will do well to leave the fictional representations of nannies on the book's page or theater's screen-it will be a smoother ride for all involved.
Outside the United States, nannies do not suffer from a blurred definition. In countries such as England, Ireland, and Germany, nannies and other household employees have long been defined, and thus, treated as professionals. Although employing household help is very much a personal decision, we all need to see nannies, housekeepers, eldercare workers, gardeners, maintenance workers, and other household employees as real people performing real jobs-professional jobs. The only difference is that these professionals perform their work in your home.
For whatever reason, in the United States, nannies and other household employees have often been viewed as temporary workers, a position taken by people who are deciding on other life matters (such as those who are deciding whether to pursue higher education, what profession they "really" want to do, or where geographically they want to reside). This is changing rapidly, as more and more U.S. households are hiring employees to help the heads of household achieve a manageable life/work balance.
Household employment is no longer only for the wealthy. As the number of U.S. household employers grows, the spectrum of household employers widens to four basic types. Today, household employers are:
1. the wealthy;
2. the comfortable dual-income family with parents who both want to maintain their careers;
3. the dual-income family just getting by with parents who both need to work-even when one parent would prefer to stay home to care for the child; and,
4. the single parent who is dependent on one income.
The following are some important characteristics involved with the different household employer types.
The wealthy. This group often has little difficulty providing a good household workplace for employees, because most often, the wealthy have grown up with household help around them. They are very in tune with this being a work relationship, and often have few problems with an employee being in their home environment. This group may be more concerned with and put more emphasis on confidentiality than others. The wealthy families generally hire nannies, housekeepers, household managers, housemen, and cooks.
The established household. This household has been around help for a while, and may have two to three children. They are working to maintain a successful balance between work and life. Hiring a nanny or other household professional is a way for them to do just that. Many of these families are relatively new to household employment; they likely have employed help for about five years, have learned how to best manage household employees through trial and error, and often find themselves on their third nanny hire before basic employment elements are worked out and agreed upon. These families may ease much of their struggle by following the work procedures offered throughout this book. Established households generally hire nannies or household managers, a housekeeper, and a handyman.
The young family. This household may have one or two children, is balancing work and life, and has accessed household help to permit the parents to continue their careers, while at the same time beginning and growing their family. The young families see household help as a structured, professional situation that allows them control in managing their home life. So new is this group to household help that they will need to establish their home as a workplace, forge a satisfying employee-employer relationship, manage payroll and taxes, and so on. These families may not necessarily have considered employing household help, but have found they need and want in-home care to provide the best possible environment for their children, and to help them maintain a rich quality of life. The young family generally hires a nanny.
As family needs grew, the demand for different skills expanded, and as a result, various household positions have developed. Other popular household positions in the United States include:
There is a household position for any of the multiple operations that keep a home running. How to go about hiring and maintaining your household help is discussed in future chapters. However, it is critical that prospective household employers begin with a clear definition of what they want in a household employee. First, understand what your objectives are in bringing an employee into your household. Many people have taken that nerve-racking first step. For you, it does not have to be into the unknown. The experiences detailed throughout this book will help you bypass some of the pitfalls and smooth out some of the complexities associated with employing staff.
Deciding What Works for You
Viewing a situation from another person's perspective is always a good barometer for how something will work out. When it comes to employing household help, ask yourself the following questions.
What do I want to accomplish in the short- and long-term?
What problem am I trying to solve?
Who does this benefit?
Most household employers want to balance their personal life with their work life. They want to know that their child, parent, or home is being cared for so that they may focus on their work and careers. By employing staff to tend to concerns at home, they are then able to devote time and energy to their careers. Hiring household staff is your avenue to cultivate a lifestyle of convenience, peace of mind, and freedom.
You may be surprised to discover that more than just the people living in your household are stakeholders in some way or another to your household employment. Other than your spouse, children, and you, a household employee could affect and benefit extended family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers, among others.
In any household employment, the biggest mistake any one of us can make is not planning on being successful. Many people do not take the time necessary to be a proactive employer/manager. They do not plan for or practice to be a household employer. Without a well-designed ground plan, your nanny, your family, and you may be unprepared for the day-to-day issues that arise. These issues often result in wasted efforts and time, often pulling the employer away from his or her professional duties to attend to a household matter that could likely be handled individually by the nanny or housekeeper if plans had been established.
No matter if you are hiring a nanny to care for your child, an eldercare provider to care for your parent, or a houseman to care for your property, you need to make a real effort to learn about, plan for, and practice being a manager of a household employee. Naturally, you will need to manage your way through some bumps in the road, but once everyone is engaged, you will be positioned to build and maintain a successful employment relationship.
No matter who is working in your home, keep in mind the reality of the situation. You are making difficult decisions that affect your household and your family. Household employment is very much a personal endeavor. You do it to manage your life, provide optimal care for your children or ailing parents, and maintain a smooth and peaceful household. It is not easy, and there is no other hire as important. No matter what the type of household employee, the process is the same-learn, prepare, plan, communicate, gather feedback, and revise (if necessary). By preparing, planning, and practicing as household employer, you are on your way to engaging a critical member of your household team, one that will help you with your goal of achieving life and work balance.