23/01/2007 - 22:00

Family focus at Pitcher Partners

23/01/2007 - 22:00

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Family is such a high priority for the Perth partners of accounting and advisory firm, Pitcher Partners, that the partners included a room specially designed for their children, and the children of their employees, when they moved into their new St George

Family focus at Pitcher Partners

Family is such a high priority for the Perth partners of accounting and advisory firm, Pitcher Partners, that the partners included a room specially designed for their children, and the children of their employees, when they moved into their new St Georges Terrace office in August.

The room is fitted out with a PlayStation, toys, DVDs and a bed.

It was initially provided by the partners on a trial basis, with the room to be converted into an office if it proved unpopular or too difficult to manage.

But the room is a roaring success, with staff members bringing in their kids into work during school holidays or when their kids are feeling sick.

The child-friendly room, which has been named after popular Rottnest bay, The Basin, is helping attract and retain staff.

Jodie Hede is the company’s chief financial officer and her office overlooks The Basin.

“I’m the highest paid babysitter on the terrace,” she said.

Mrs Hede has a seven-year-old son, Sebastian, and a four-year-old daughter, Cleo.

She said the child-friendly room allowed her and her husband to better manage their children and be better at their jobs.

 “There are occasions when your child has a sniffle and they are too sick for school but you can bring them in here,” Mrs Hede said. “There’s a bed for them to lie down on and you can keep an eye on them but still come in to work.

“My husband runs his business from home, so sometimes he needs a break from the kids or he has an appointment he needs to go to and he can’t take them with him, so he’ll drop them in to me.”

Mrs Hede added that having The Basin available to her last year meant she did not have to take time off when her husband was unable to mind the children due to illness.

“The fact that I could bring the kids in meant I could continue to work, which was fantastic,” Mrs Hede said. “It’s also great on school holidays. I often bring them in for a half day. They come in the morning with me and then I take them to lunch and their father picks them up and takes them for the afternoon.”

Mrs Hede said the fathers at Pitcher Partners used the room just as often as the women in the office.

“They help out the mums by bringing their kids in, and if their kids are really little we put our office junior in there to keep an eye on them,” she said.

Mrs Hede said the room has proved so popular that the firm has had to buy an additional two controls for the PlayStation.

Pitcher Partners partner Chris Munday said six out of the eight partners had young children and they thought that the room would be beneficial for both staff and clients.

“We have clients who come in during school holidays and if they have their kids they can put them in the room where they can play the PlayStation or watch DVDs,” he said. “While the partners have kids we also wanted to attract and retain women, and we thought this would help.”

Mrs Hede said The Basin was definitely a winning feature for several people who had accepted jobs in the firm.

She agreed that the room would make choosing to go to another job more difficult.

“There are not too many places in Perth that have this facility,” she said.

Mrs Hede added that the firm’s partners also placed a high priority on family events.

“Since I have been working here I have never missed a school concert, an assembly or a sports day,” Mrs Hede said. “I think I would probably get into trouble with them [the partners] if I had.”

Mr Munday said the firm, which employs about 40 people, was keen to evolve its child-friendly room as the firm evolved.

“We like to think we will be employing 100 people in a few years. When we get to that size, doing something a bit bigger with the room, like making a commitment for a crèche, becomes a lot easier to do.”

Mrs Hede said the children enjoyed coming in and seeing what their parents did all day.

“They love coming and finding out what goes on and where their mum or dad is.”

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