Top ways to maintain a work/life balance

Is it possible to have work/life balance?

Work/life balance. It is a myth? Does it exist? Is it attainable? This was the fifth and final question tackled by our eight industry thought leaders at the second Professional Beauty Industry Roundtable, which focused on staff motivation.

Our panel, which included Tina Copland from Jax Wax Australia, Kelly Dermody from Ivy Skin, Cameron Campbell from Marque of Brands, Stacey Manning from Malibu Spray, Roman Garai from Advanced Beauty Australia, Suzana Ruzinov from Swissotel Spa, Rory Houston from Linda Meredith Skincare and Gillian Adams from Gillian Adams Salon & Spa, discussed how they best managed the delicate balance between home and career themselves and for their staff.

Stacey proposed stepping back and asking yourself: ‘Ten 10 years ago, would I have worked here? Would I have liked to have worked for myself?’, while Tina said it was a case of “swings and roundabouts” and that if you asked extra from your staff, you owed them rewards or time off.

Suzana said she tried to be as flexible as possible with her staff, while Cameron spruiked the importance of having individual conversations with everyone in the company to work out what motivated them.

Rory advised setting boundaries right from the start so “everyone knows what’s expected of them” while Roman said be clear and direct in the job interview about an employee’s role and responsibilities.

Tina said to remember “when you first start operating a business, you’re in business for yourself” while Gillian said she’d like to see the hair and beauty industry get together and create an on-call service, so when employees called in sick, it wouldn’t affect business.

Read their edited responses below or watch the video for the full discussion.


“Salon owners have a real responsibility to look after staff. We have to remember to be sensitive and put ourselves in their shoes. As a salon owner, work/life balance is very difficult for me. You have to keep remembering just because you’re working long hours doesn’t mean that you should expect or demand the same hours from your staff members. It’s important step back and ask yourself, 10 years ago, would I have worked here? Would I have liked to have worked for myself? When you really think about that, you’ll come up with answers and solutions on how to make that work/life balance better and how to be more understanding for your staff so they can come to work and enjoy being there.”

“It’s swings and roundabouts. There will be times when work is frantically busy and you need to ask extra from everybody. But you have to remember you then owe them. Staff need time off. They need to go home early today. If you’ve got a situation where everybody’s constantly having to work overtime, either they’re doing something wrong because they’re not capable, or you’re doing something wrong in that you’re asking far too much and you actually need an additional person.”

“We are very flexible. Whether our staff members need to leave, whether they need to study, to go and learn, we always give the option to go and do that.”
Cameron: “Everyone’s unique. Everyone’s different. Everyone has different drivers. Everyone wants to achieve different things in their life. And having individual conversations with every one of our teams to figure out what works for them is the success of our business. A staff member will say, ‘This is what I want’. And our answer to that is simply, ‘No problems. Do it.’ That’s the easy answer. That may be very challenging from a salon world, particularly when the shifts are blocked in. But it’s about having an individual conversation with everyone, with every business, to take the time. If you figure out what works for them, you get it back in droves and droves. We haven’t had a sick day in our business for probably three years. That’s an indicator to say we’ve got something right.”

“If you set the boundaries clearly from the start, everyone knows what’s expected of them. And the answer to that can be, ‘You tell us what you want and we are 99 percent sure, we’re probably going to award that.’ That can be as simple as recognising when someone stays back until 6pm on a Friday night because they need to get a task done, and then without even them asking for it, you go to them and say, ‘Kick off at 11am on Monday’. Consider very tiny little activities, which you can reward your staff on a frequent basis with. It will have that tenfold effect and they’ll really feel that.”

“It all starts with the job interview. This is where we need to set the boundaries. Ask the interviewee what they expect from the job, and what they expect from you. When it comes to staff motivation, some people are motivated by money, some people are not. Some people want to have time off for other commitments. People have sport activities, people are depressed, they have family issues, etc. Try and get it right from the beginning to avoid further problems.”

“As a business owner, my work/life balance has improved immensely from what it was 10 years ago. When you first start operating a business, you’re in business for yourself. There’s no money, all you seem to be doing is spending out all the time and working ridiculous hours that you wouldn’t possibly ask anybody else to do. But you can always do it yourself. My husband and I work together and have done for many years. And our son has now entered our business, so naturally talk around the dinner table is work and it’s very difficult to sometimes separate that out and just talk about other things. But we all enjoy it. So it’s not an onerous thing. You need to be aware that even though you seem to be maybe spending a lot of time at work, or in your business, you actually enjoy it.”

“I have a high expectation of my staff and I’ve had to re-challenge myself. Because staff these days don’t want to work the hours; they only want to work part-time, or 38 hours, but I’m selling time. I’ve got to have staff. I’d like to see the hair and beauty industry get together and create an on-call service. So when people are sick it doesn’t affect your business or you don’t have to ask staff to come in and cover on their days off. I’d love contribute to putting that idea forward to the industry.”

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