Burnout and the work-family interface: a two-wave study of sole and partnered working mothers

Laura D. Robinson*, Christopher Magee, Peter Caputi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine whether work-to-family conflict (WFC) and work-to-family enrichment (WFE) predicted burnout in working mothers using conservation of resources theory. The authors also examined whether these relationships varied between sole and partnered working mothers. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 516 partnered and 107 sole mothers in paid employment completed an online survey twice, six months apart. Findings – WFC was significantly positively related to burnout, and WFE significantly negatively related to burnout. Marital status moderated the inverse relationship between WFE and personal burnout, and this relationship was significant for partnered mothers only. Research limitations/implications – Limitations include self-report data, and the sample being highly educated thereby limiting generalizability. Practical implications – Providing an enriching and supportive work environment may be an important strategy for minimizing burnout in mothers, particularly for sole mothers. Social implications – Employed sole mother’s risks of burnout may be higher than for other mothers even when experiencing WFE, which can have implications for their functioning and for family well-being. Originality/value – This two-wave study is the first to highlight that sole mothers, who are at risk of greater socio-economic disadvantages, do not benefit from WFE to the same degree as partnered mothers. Future work-family and burnout research should further examine differences based family structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Burnout
  • Marital status
  • Mothers
  • Work-family conflict
  • Work-family enrichment


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