A friend of mine, whom we'll call Sarah, is a parent, a freelancer, and a co-owner of a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business. Balancing all these roles can be quite demanding. Running an SME requires a full-time commitment, which often extends beyond regular work hours to include evenings and weekends. As a freelancer, Sarah's work is part-time, primarily taking place during evenings and weekends. Being a parent, on the other hand, is a role that cannot be easily defined by a specific timeframe. It is both challenging and immensely rewarding.

Sarah is not alone in managing multiple roles and leading a fulfilling life. There are many others who find themselves in similar situations. In South Africa alone, there are over 2.6 million micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa, and about 37% are considered formal. Contributing 39% towards the country's GDP. (The Mail & Guardian, 2022)*.

Those who run SMEs employ individuals who also have families, work long hours, and have their own commitments and interests. These employees, like Sarah, lead full lives. They are the team that enables business managers to run SMEs, freelance, and care for their children. Managers and employees work together, so it is crucial that we treat each other well. Many of them are the sole breadwinners for their families, and their salaries must cover all expenses related to food, transportation, accommodation, electricity, childcare, and education.

It is essential that we take care of our employees in the same way they take care of our businesses, children, and homes. It is a give-and-take relationship. We should understand their responsibilities and financial obligations in their personal lives, just as they should understand their responsibilities in the workplace. We should help them establish a foundation of financial stability, which will enable them to fulfil their roles and contribute to the success of the business.

Our employees are not just workers; they are parents, siblings, sons, and daughters. Their personal identities do not change when they work for us. The same goes for us. In addition to our business and work commitments, we are partners, parents, and family members with roles to fulfil in our personal lives. Ultimately, we are all human beings striving to live our best lives. We all have responsibilities, experience joy and sadness, pursue dreams, and possess unique qualities.

In conclusion, it is in everyone's best interest to be fair and treat each other well in life, whether they are employees, family members, friends, or neighbours.