VIEWS: 180 PAGES: 28



balance better business



This booklet is an outcome of the ‘Women’s business – Family Friendly business’ project, which worked with ten Victorian women who own small businesses and are committed to creating more family friendly workplaces. They have shared their experiences in this booklet. You can find out more about our participants in the online version of the booklet available in the ‘Work Family balance’ section of the Infohub at There you’ll also find many other resources and tools to help you make family friendly changes in your workplace. You can also download this booklet and other resources created for the project at The project and this booklet were made possible with assistance from Industrial Relations Victoria. To order free copies of this booklet call WIRE on 1300 134 130.
All photography by Gabriella Favretto 0413 676 733. Disclaimer: The information contained in this booklet is intended as a guide only and is current as of June 007.

Sally Nicholes, owner of Nicholes Family Law

Contents how to use this booklet
This booklet has been designed for easy access. You can read it cover-to-cover or dip into relevant sections. Whether you have 50 employees or two, we hope you will find some good ideas and be inspired to give them a go! Where you see this icon it means ...
more information is available from the organisations and websites listed on pages 6 and 7 of this booklet.


Where you see this icon it means ...
Additional links are available in the interactive version of this booklet available at in the ‘Work Family balance’ section of the Infohub.

Where you see this icon it means ...
Short activities you can do to start thinking and talking about work family balance in your business.

Where you see this icon it means ...
The small business owners who participated in our project share their experiences of trying to achieve work family balance in their businesses.

1. Why go family friendly? 2. Where are you now? 3. What are the options? 4. Finding your own balance 5. Working together to make it work 6. Information & support

4 8 10 14 22 26


Why go family friendly?


Family friendly workplaces have policies in place that help employees work more flexible hours and take leave when they need it to allow them to care for others. They are also workplaces where employees can ask about and access these options without feeling like they are letting the team down or jeopardising their employment.
Not only are family friendly practices good for your employees, they’re good for your business. They also help you to achieve your own goals for balancing the demands of running your business with your personal life.
Jodi and Anne, owners of Axia Solutions, with their children

Good for business
As a small business owner you live and die by your bottom line, and so you may be concerned about the costs of implementing family friendly practices. The good news is that research shows that family friendly policies can actually improve efficiency and save you money. Some of the proven benefits of family friendly practices include: • happier employees – at work and at home – with less stress and better health • Increased employee productivity, motivation, creativity and ownership of results • Increased levels of customer satisfaction • Greater ability to meet business demands • Lower absenteeism • Improved employee loyalty • Reduced risk of physical and mental burn out • more employees returning to work after maternity leave • Employer of choice - better quality applicants are attracted to available jobs


Carolyn Cresswell, owner of Carman’s Fine Foods

Let’s crunch the numbers
Studies show the benefits of family friendly policies and practices far outweigh the costs for businesses.


Costs of replacing employees
Implementing family friendly practices helps retain staff and often costs far less than replacing employees. • When an employee leaves, you lose their knowledge and networks, you generate recruiting and training costs and you lose valuable time you could be spending on the business. • These costs have been estimated to be 38% of the employee’s annual salary.

Replacing an employee on a salary of $45,000 could cost you $15,960.
Taken from ‘Work and Family balance manual: better practices for better business’

Costs of absenteeism
Providing employees with flexible alternatives reduces absenteeism and that saves you money. • Absenteeism costs include paying the employee while they are not able to be productive, juggling other employees to cover absent employees, overtime, production losses, etc. • These costs are estimated to be 30% on top of an employee’s daily salary.

An employee on a salary of $4,000 costs you $7.50 each day they are absent.
Taken from ‘Evaluating work and family strategies in your workplace’

Good for women, good for society
Women are still overwhelmingly the primary carers in our society. Difficulties balancing work and family are a major cause of stress for women today and can prevent them from re-entering the workplace or progressing their careers. Women own more than 30% of Australia’s small businesses. by creating a supportive environment for you and your employees to care for your families, you are helping to change the culture of work for women for the better.


Do well by doing good
Did you know that your good works could lead to other benefits, like great opportunities to promote and enhance the reputation of your business? As a leader in family friendly best practice your business could be recognised through accreditations such as: • ‘Equal Opportunity Employer of Choice for Women’ and awards such as the: • ‘ACCI/bCA National Work and Family Awards’

Dainy Sawatzky, owner of Body


Where are you now?


If you’re a woman running your own small business, our guess is you probably already have a strong commitment to providing work and family balance. In fact, you are probably already doing a lot of things to help your employees balance their work and family commitments.
These practices might come so naturally to you that you haven’t even thought of them as ‘family friendly practices’. Our quick quiz below will help you to identify what you might be taking for granted.

How family friendly is my business?
how many of the following describe your business well? 1 2 m employees have the option of flexible work-times; I know y they’ll get the work done. I’m open to considering different employment options that suit my employees and my business, such as part time and job sharing. I’m flexible about the reasons my employees take leave and how they take it. my employees approach me for help when they need to meet out-of-work commitments. my employees know that when considering their requests I try to strike a fair balance between their needs and those of the business – they know if I have to say no it’s not personal and I don’t play favourites. my employees’ families feel welcome at my business. my employees and I encourage each other not to work ridiculous hours.

3 4 5

6 7

8 I try to make the workplace a family friendly space. 9 I provide the best possible maternity leave conditions I can afford. 10 my employees know what’s on offer to help them and my customers know that my policy is to be a family friendly workplace.


How did you score?
If you scored 7 - 10 Well done, you’re a family friendly star! This booklet might give you some extra ideas to enhance your practices and promote yourself as a family friendly employer. If you scored 4 – 6 You’re well on the way. This booklet should help you to improve the family friendliness of your business. If you scored 0 – 3 Good on you for picking up this booklet! You can now take the first steps toward creating a more productive workplace.

Sue McDonald, owner of Perform Business Solutions, with her children


What are the options?


Family friendly work practices are not limited to maternity leave. There are a wide range of options available to you and your small business that will promote a healthy balance between work and family. here are just a few of the practices that may be of interest to small business owners.
Family friendly practice
Job share is where two or more people share the responsibilities, hours, salary and benefits of one full time job.

business has access to highly skilled employees while outputs are achieved at a full time level. Job sharers can access challenging and satisfying part time roles, and have the flexibility to cover for each other when family things come up. Parents can better manage care during school holidays, as unlike leave without pay, they can be at home with their kids and still have wages coming in. It also allows the business to plan well ahead to cover these absences.

Things to consider
Job sharers will need to communicate well and ensure continuity of tasks. Would they benefit from some crossover time?

Purchased annual leave or 48/5 enables an employee to purchase additional leave during the course of a year. For example, if working a 48/5 purchased leave arrangement, the employee will receive an extra four weeks paid leave per year. The employee’s salary of 48 weeks is paid over 5 weeks. Other variations of this leave include 46/5 or 50/5.

You will need to cover the employee’s position for the extra time they are away. Employees will of course need to consider whether they can afford to live on the reduced wage and also how it will affect their super.

Family friendly practice
Employee choice rostering, also known as self rostering, allows employees to select shifts, either on a permanent or rotating basis, that best suit their caring and other responsibilities.

makes shift work more attractive as it allows employees to plan around their day-to-day family responsibilities and one-off events. It also frees up some time for the owner to do non-rostering tasks. Reduces absenteeism and stress. Acts to boost employee loyalty and morale, leading to greater retention and reduced turnover costs.

Things to consider
how will employees negotiate with each other and with you to ensure that business needs are covered? Clear guidelines and a transparent process for negotiations and decision-making are essential. how can disruptions and distractions to other employees be kept to a minimum? Also, make sure that employees without dependents know that these practices are extended to the people they care about.

A family friendly workplace tries to accommodate people’s family commitments at work. For example, you may be able to provide a private phone for emergency family phone calls, a carer’s or family room for lactation breaks, breastfeeding, or for children who are not at school due to a minor illness or holidays. Another simple thing you can do is to plan social events that families can come along to.


Relief for rostering headaches


ballarat Family Pet Care Clinic co-owners Diane Gibney and Caroline mcCutcheon have some unique issues to consider when rostering their staff. For example, pregnant veterinarians cannot take radiographs or administer certain anaesthetics. With 13 mums on their payroll, the clinic has been experimenting with different approaches to rostering. Previously, each new staff member noted their availability and preferred shifts and the clinic did their best to accommodate them. however, it was extremely difficult to juggle everyone’s preferences, especially as most of the mums wanted similar shifts. Diane and Caroline often covered the gaps themselves, to the detriment of their own family commitments. “To improve that process, our employees now take responsibility for any changes to their hours they might need”, Diane says. “If someone needs to take a half day for example, it’s up to them to talk to the other staff and organise someone to cover that time for them. It means that the roster is always changing and evolving, but the service is covered and our employees are able to have more flexibility, so we’re happy with how it’s going.”

Defining family
When you’re thinking about family friendly practices, keep in mind that families come in all shapes and sizes. here is an example of a very broad and inclusive definition: “By family, (this business) means those relationships defined as such by the employee. This includes all the people the employee provides support for.”



Children welcome
Carolyn Creswell bought her own muesli-making business when she was just 18 years old. Carman’s muesli and muesli bars are now stocked in all the major supermarkets throughout Australia, and are exported throughout the Asia-Pacific region and to the uK. “When you own your own business, the space you create is up to you”, says Carolyn. “I try to make my business not only ‘family friendly’ but ‘people friendly’.” Carolyn has made a conscious decision to advertise jobs in the local paper and to employ people who live locally. This makes it easier for mums to pick up their children from school. “I also created a ‘family room’ so that mothers can bring their kids back here after school, or the older children make their own way here. It means they’re supervised and their mums aren’t worrying about them. The family room is also handy if a child is too sick to go to school. It gets used just about every day.” The family room has chairs and a bed, a computer with games, a TV and DVDs. “I have found that if you go the extra mile for your staff, they really go the extra mile for you.”


Finding your own balance

Eighty percent of businesswomen who took part in a recent Westpac survey said they started their own business to create a more flexible schedule and balanced life for themselves.


Although many women start out with these intentions, many find the allconsuming passion of raising their ‘business baby’ causes them to lose sight of their original goals. Does this sound familiar? Do you now find yourself overextended and struggling to fit in those things that you thought would be easier once you left the 9 to 5 grind behind? You may be doing wonderful things to help your employees find balance, but what about you?


Leaving corporate culture behind – harder than it sounds
Kerry melbourne started her own printing business, Copy Crew, because she felt she had ‘missed out’ on her first child’s early years of schooling due to her demanding job as a skincare/cosmetics representative, when long hours and frequent travel kept her away from home. “When my second child started school, I was determined to find a way to take control of my own hours and give my family greater priority,” Kerry says. Kerry realised that the skincare/cosmetics industry has an insatiable appetite for printing, and that with her contacts and insider’s knowledge, this was the perfect business opportunity for her. “Initially I felt guilty about leaving my business at .30pm each day to pick up the kids from school. I was concerned that my staff and customers might doubt my level of commitment. I guess I’m still in the process of changing that old mind set about work – that you’ve got to be there all the time.”

Stop the guilt cycle!
As women, most of us are masters at putting our own needs last. many of the business owners we spoke to talked about feeling guilty. Guilty about leaving their children if they left home early for business reasons and guilty about leaving their employees if they left work early to be with their children. They felt stretched thin between their family and what many referred to as their ‘other family’ at work. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a cycle of guilt when you don’t set limits on how much you can give. Remember to set realistic expectations for yourself. Define the boundaries between your business and your family and take good care of yourself.



Practice what you preach
After experiencing difficulty in achieving work life balance in the corporate world, Jennifer bailey is now running her own recruitment business, Jennifer bailey & Associates, and is practicing what she preaches. Jennifer employs three part time staff who job share two administration roles. They have children and aged parents to care for and appreciate having a flexible employer who offers them encouragement, acceptance and support. “We all have a life outside the office,” says Jennifer. “my clients all know that I like to make the time to play golf with my 80’s plus mother. I tell them I will be out of the office, and they know their service won’t suffer because of it. They’re always interested to hear how we played! You can be your own worst enemy if you assume what people expect or how they will react. You might be surprised by how accepting people can be.”

Planning for the future
“Starting a business is like having a baby. You give birth to it and then it takes on a life of its own.”


Diane Gibney, ballarat Family Pet Care Clinic

The opportunity to grow your business is exciting. It’s proof of your business savvy and all the hard work you’ve put in. but if you feel like your business is a runaway train that you’re struggling to keep up with, maybe it’s time to put on the brakes while you think about how expansion will affect your work family balance? If you do decide to grow your business, think about how you will build family friendly practices into your business, so that you and your employees can continue to care for your families.
Natasha Kuperman, owner of Red Creative, Design and Digital, with her new baby


This business is just right
Carole Anderson was asked by a friend to help establish Strataway, a body corporate management business in 004, due to her many years of experience in the industry as an employee. After two and a half years she was offered the opportunity to buy her business partner out, which she did. “It is important to me that my staff are happy and enjoy their work environment,” Carole says. “All my employees are mature women; it’s just developed that way. It’s good because we can talk things through and resolve things together. Good communication is the key in this industry and all of my staff are excellent mediators in difficult situations.” To cope with a steadily increasing client list, Carole has had to employ and train additional staff and relocate from her home office to new premises. Carole realised that she needed to strike a balance between maintaining a positive work environment and her desire to grow the business. Strataway therefore has a well thought out growth strategy. “I have set my goal to reach a certain client load, as we wish to remain a small to medium boutique business that continues to offer a high level of service to our clients. We enjoy working with clients who take pride in maintaining the value of their investment.”


‘Coming out’ to your customers!
many business owners we spoke to admitted they struggled with their own work family balance issues and often felt reluctant to let their customers know when they were attending to family commitments.


Remember, we’re all members of families and it’s likely your customers have family commitments, too! being open about your family and other commitments can even strengthen customer relationships.

37.9% of employed women have dependent children. 44% of employed mothers with children under the age of two use flexible working hours to assist with childcare.
(Australian bureau of Statistics)


A happy announcement
Natasha Kuperman owns and runs Red Creative, Design and Digital. Natasha was working full time until the recent arrival of her first baby. When 1 weeks’ pregnant, Natasha decided to contact all her clients personally to advise them of her pregnancy and give them the opportunity to schedule their jobs around Natasha’s changing circumstances. “I’d say about 70% of my clients are women, and so that made me feel more confident about telling them. I hoped they’d understand, and overwhelmingly they did. They appreciated me telling them personally and they were really positive.” Natasha was able to plan her workload and that of her staff and maintain important relationships with her valued clients. She plans to resume working on a part time basis.


Setting boundaries
Anne Tzouvelis and Jodi Read started their business with Louise Oliaro (who is now a consultant to the business) after running into each other in the supermarket. They had worked together as social workers and realised they were now all mums and wanting the same thing - professional part time work they could fit around their family. And so Axia Solutions, a recruitment business specialising in filling temporary social work positions, was born. however, they were worried that if they told clients the truth about juggling part time hours, or that they were taking calls while out of the office attending to family, they would be seen as less available, less committed and less professional. Anne has now started to re-think her approach. “The real ‘light bulb moment’ for me was realising we don’t have to be shifty or reluctantly admit that we only work part time,” says Anne. “We can say, ‘these are our office hours, this is when we’re available’. We can put it right there on the door, that we’re a family friendly business and that’s why we shut at .30pm.”


Seek out support
If on reflection you feel you are not currently achieving your own work family balance goals, perhaps it’s time to re-examine your priorities. how much time do you spend on your family, your business, your social life, relaxation? make a list of the activities that are important to you and think about how you can free up some time for them. Can you re-work your schedule, outsource or delegate some tasks, or even just say ‘no’ to some things? Talk to your family and employees about how they may be able to support you. Think laterally, you may be able to find sources of support further afield, like Diane and Caroline below.



Sharing the load
Diane Gibney and Caroline mcCutcheon are joint owners and managers of ballarat Family Pet Care Clinic. Their 15 staff are all women, and all but two have dependent children. Vets have a legal obligation to attend to emergency calls, which of course can happen at extremely un-family-friendly hours. As there is no emergency veterinary service available in ballarat, someone from the clinic had to be rostered on every night. Diane and Caroline found a creative solution. They made an agreement with two other veterinary practices in order to share the workload. They have now effectively reduced their after hours calls by two-thirds, which has eased some of the strain on their families.

You might also like to find support by talking to other businesswomen who are dealing with the same issues. There are now quite a few women’s business networks you can join.

building a supportive team
Committed employees who believe in the mission and values of your business are vital to success. many business owners we spoke to said it was also important that their employees understood the owner’s need to attend to their own family commitments. At these times, employees need to be able to motivate themselves and make their own decisions.



mum power!
After nine years, Dainy Sawatzky’s fashion label, body, now has three retail outlets and is stocked throughout Australia and overseas. After working virtually 4/7 as designer and manager, Dainy had a baby and found her focus naturally changed. but without the luxury of taking maternity leave, how was she going to enjoy being a mum and keep her business going? “I tried to train a designer to replicate my style so I could scale down my hours that way,” Dainy says. “I now think I was pretty naïve to think I could just hand over my creative vision for the label.” Dainy also worried about her staff when she started working less hours. “After the birth, they expected me to carry on exactly as before. Now when I recruit I really appreciate other highly skilled mums who are seeking part time work and who understand my concept of work family balance.” Dainy is also searching for another mum to become her business partner. by sharing the workload and the decision-making, she hopes to relieve some of the pressure she feels in balancing her professional and personal life.


Working together to make it work

Do you know what your employees need? The first step in making your business more family friendly is to start a conversation with your employees about what they would find helpful.

how formal you make this process will depend on your business. If you have two or three employees you might have a chat over a cup of coffee. If you have a larger staff you could make it an agenda item at your next team meeting. You might even consider doing a written survey; do you think employees would give you more honest feedback if their responses were anonymous? Sample employee family needs assessment surveys are available online. Remember that employees without dependents still have families and family responsibilities. They need to be included in the conversation and reassured that they are not being disadvantaged.
Kerry Melbourne, owner of Copy Crew, at work with her children

What do your employees need?
Top five conversation starters 1 2 3 4 5 What family or caring responsibilities do you have outside of work? how do your caring responsibilities affect other employees and the business? What does work family balance look like to you? how well do current work practices suit your caring responsibilities? how could we improve things?


Things for employees to consider
• If they work different or less hours, how will it affect their take-home pay, as well as super, leave entitlements etc. Can they afford it? • how will it affect their elder or childcare arrangements? • Will they need to be more disciplined, organised and motivated? • how will it impact their career goals and professional development opportunities?
Carolyn Cresswell (second from left) and some of the staff from Carman’s Fine Foods

Why not write it down?
Once you and your employees have agreed on how the business will approach family friendly practices, it’s a good idea to write it down. The advantages of having a written version available are that:


• all employees can be made aware of policies • employees can forward-plan based on what’s written, and • if requests are denied, employees can see there is a clear and transparent process in place. You might wish to include clauses in a collective agreement, write a stand-alone policy, create a one-page insert for your employee induction pack, or post it on your notice board. Whatever works for your business. make sure employees know where it lives and that it’s not forgotten. Remind employees about the options available from time to time and keep them engaged. There are some excellent resources, such as draft clauses, available to help you write up your policies.


use it, don’t lose it
Chris Johnston is the owner of Context, a business that has been providing strategic planning, research and consultation for heritage, environment and community projects for  years. Context developed family friendly policies and procedures about four years ago. They are incorporated in Context’s enterprise agreement, but making these policies known to staff is a challenge. “The policies may be written down in a handbook, but the resources we put in don’t pay off unless staff take it down from the shelf and read it,” says Chris. “We are now going to post our policies on our new intranet. Our staff are very computer literate and we’re hoping this will make it more accessible and ‘top-of-mind’ for them.”

What’s next?
As you can see there are many ways to make your business family friendly. To find out more and gain assistance check out the resources suggested at the end of this booklet. Remember, there’s no one size fits all solution and each business will have its own unique needs. The best way to discover these needs is often simply to talk to your employees. As you trial new practices, make time to check in with your employees to evaluate your initiatives. Whether you choose to make a big policy change or a small but significant gesture, you, your employees and your business will benefit.


Jennifer Bailey, owner of Jennifer Bailey & Associates, with her mother

Information & support
Business Victoria
On-line tools for small business plus information, advice and referrals, including the Small business mentoring Service, which provides volunteer mentors and coaches to Victorian businesses. Phone: 132 215 or Freecall: 1800 136 034


Industrial Relations Victoria
under ‘Industrial Relations’ on the business Victoria website you will find information about balancing work and family, including the comprehensive ‘Work and Family balance manual’ which has information on legislative requirements, case studies and sample family friendly clauses.

Australian Government Workplace Relations
A handy entrance point for all Federal employment and workplace relations services and resources, including information on agreement-making and a section on work life balance. Phone: 1300 363 264 (Workplace Infoline) Phone: 1300 662 871 (Employers of 0 people or less contact the Small business Team)

Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI)
An employers’ organisation offering services, advice, events and resources to members. Phone: (03) 8662 5333

Work Life Balance Association
hosts regular events to assist the business community to broaden their understanding of work life balance issues in the workplace.

Business and Professional Women Australia
bPW provides members with opportunities to network, access mentors, develop skills and participate in forums to discuss issues of concern with likeminded and diverse women. Phone: (03) 9895 4487


Business Mums Network
A member-based organisation. Their website includes articles, links, directories and an interactive forum.

About us
Queen Victoria Women’s Centre
QVWC works to empower women. Their Infohub is a gateway to online resources contributed by a range of expert women’s networks, including a section on work family balance where you will find an interactive version of this booklet.

WIRE – Women’s Information
Provides free, confidential information, support and referrals to Victorian women on a wide range of issues. You can download this booklet from their website or contact them to order hard copies. Women’s Information Centre: 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne Phone: 1300 134 130 Email:

booklet for me?
Are you a woman who owns and runs her own small business? Did you know that implementing family friendly practices in your business could actually improve your efficiency and save you money?

is this

This booklet will help you to answer questions like: • how can family friendly practices improve my business? • What options are available to help me and my employees better balance our work and family lives? • how can I make these options a reality in my business? • Where can I find more information and support? This easy-to-read booklet shares the experiences of real women who are dealing with these issues in their own small businesses and shows you how you too can improve work family balance in your business without huge investments of time or money.

Published by:


To top