Juggling Life and a Small Business
Parenting, working & treating employees well
Parenting, working and treating employees well
A friend (let’s call her Sarah) is a parent and a freelancer and a co-owner of a SME business. She also sleeps some times.
Running a SME is a full-time job. Full-time usually means evenings and weekends as well as standard work hours.
Being a freelancer, in Sarah’s case, is a part-time gig. Part-time in this case means evenings and weekends.
And being a parent. No short phrase can describe this role. It is fairly demanding, utterly rewarding, and a timeframe doesn’t really come into it.
Further, it seems that those who work like this are not alone managing multiple roles and living a full life. There are a lot of people who have multiple roles. In South Africa we now have more than 2 million recognised small businesses, that contribute nearly 50% of South Africa’s GDP, and employ up to 60% of our total workforce (Stats SA 2015)*.
Those who run SME’s employ people who also have families, who also work long hours, and who have commitments and enjoyments of their own. In other words, they also live full lives. These are the people, this is the team, that makes it possible for the business managers (people like Sarah) to run an SME in the first place, and to freelance, and to care for their children. Managers and employees work together. So it makes sense that we need to treat each other well.
In South Africa we have a unique set up with our domestic workers forming a sizable portion of the workforce. Almost 7% of the employed South African population are domestic workers. Many are the sole breadwinners, so their salary needs to cover all food, transport, accommodation, electricity and childcare and/or education expenses of their family. **
We need to look after our employees, the way they look after our businesses and children and homes. It’s a reciprocal thing. We need to understand what their responsibilities and expenses are in their personal lives. Just as they need to understand what their responsibilities are in their working lives with us. We need to help to lay a foundation of financial stability for them. The way they need to carry out their roles to enable the business to work.
Our employees are parents. They are siblings. They are sons and daughters. None of that changes when they work for us. The same goes for us. As well as out business and work commitments, we are partners, parents, family members and have a role to play in that personal sphere too. We are all really much the same. We are all humans trying to live our best life we can. We all have responsibilities, joy, sadness, dreams and uniqueness.
So in conclusion, it pays in life to be fair. And to treat each other well. Whether they are employees, family, friends or neighbours.