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Work-family Conflict and Burnout


Job burnout has been a very crucial variable being discussed at workplaces across the globe. Many researches are being conducted around the globe to find the ways of curtailing greatly levels of burnout and hence reducing the negative impact it has on individuals at work and at home. Burnout is usually caused by work-family conflict and it is one of the major reasons for job turnout. Inferences from previous studies have suggested that workplaces should strive to maintain balance to help employees manage work and family their responsibilities. The hypothesis is – good work-family practices that decrease High Work-Family Conflict will also decrease job burnout.

The Theory

The Role Theory

Much of literature concerning work-family and burnout draw some concepts from one variant of the role theory with the management of multiple roles perspective as the centre of assessment in its relation personal outcomes (Kumar, et al, 2007, p. 306). Proponents of the role expansion theory assert that taking several roles enhanced engagement at works as well as with family matters (Barnett & Hyde, 2001, p. 793; Carlson & Kacmar, 2000, p. 1031). Several studies have found a positive impact of multiple roles on the life satisfaction and self-worth among people with several roles (Kumar, et al, 2007, p. 306; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 79).

Role expansion has more support than role stress because human beings have several social roles (Scharlach, 2001, p. 217). Multiple roles increase support of different sort to satisfaction, Nonetheless, the benefits accrued from the many roles could be less as long as these roles are considered as crucial life demands (Scharlach, 2001, p. 217). In the event that these role starts to impinge each other, then the result is role conflict which causes stress (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 79).

The role stress theory in this paper is adopted from the classical role theory which purports that ambiguity experience would have caused undesirable state. A major assumption of this theory is that demanding roles cause stress and this type of distress generated by demand of each of the individual roles increases the amount of total stress (Scharlach, 2001, p. 217).

Scarcity perspective of the roles stress premise assumes that there is a finite amount of resources to deal with personal obligations including both psychological and physiological resources (Rothbard et al, 2005, p. 251). Consequently, in order to preserve them, a person has to take some trade-offs to alleviate role strain (Aryee, et al, 2005, p. 136). The underlying concept of trade-off in the context of work-family balance is that job and family obligations were separate and satisfaction of one role could be due sacrifice of the other. This is what leads to role conflict when these roles are incompatible and this is the central dogma of work-family balance concept (Aryee, et al, 2005, p. 136).

Work-Life Conflict

One of the common ways through which this conflicts are manifested in via spill over which takes place as a results of similarity in environments at work and at home and these similar patterns induce same feeling at work and at home (Carlson & Kacmar, 2000, p. 1031).They could be a positive or a negative spill over where negative spill over exacerbates dysphoria while positive spill over mitigates it (Aryee, et al, 2005, p. 139).

Pal and Saksivik, (2008, p. 27) cross-cultural studies demonstrated that nurses in Norway suffered stress mainly because of work-to-family spill over whereas in India, nurses suffered stress because of family-to-work spill over. These two conflicts are reciprocally related and an increase in work-to-family conflict resulted in family distress while family-to-work conflict caused work burnout. As oft used, work-family balance concept has to describe directionality of the conflict and the valance of the association (Kossek & Ozeki, 1998, p. 142).

Job/Life Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions

The major harm to the organization as a result of work-family conflict is the productivity and work satisfaction as they suffer burnout (Butt & Lance, 2005, p. 402). Burnout was a major cause of job dissatisfaction and turnover intentions. Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) has constantly been used to compare job satisfaction levels among groups of employees. This tool together with Job Diagnostic Survey reveals that both women are affected by time restrictions at workplaces hence causing spill over of work to family issues (Bailyn & Fletcher, 2003, p. 89).

Jamal studies the relationship between burnout and job satisfaction across Malaysia and Pakistan to determine the connection. By use of regression analysis, his conclusion demonstrated significant relationship between burnout and stress level and therefore job satisfaction (Jamal, 2008, p. 63). Early studies on work-family balance concept did not attempt to identify the differences in the roles conflicts and where it was taking place (Jamal, 2008, p. 63).

This means it was not clear whether it was as a result of inflexible working schedule/hours (the work-to-family conflict) or because of lacking supportive child care program in case a child felt ill (family to work conflict). Later on, Kossek and Ozeki carried out a meta-analysis study to review the numerous studies that had been conducted in the 1990 showing that men and women’s life and job satisfaction rates were influenced by the type and direction for conflicting responsibilities (Kossek & Ozeki, 1998, p. 142).

Time constraints

It is pertinent hence to understand the type and the direction of the conflict and also be able to identify the cause so that organization can be in a better position to design proper workplace intervention practices which will enhance balanced life hence reduce burnout (Kumar, et al, 2007, p. 309). For instance, mandatory overtime programs that causes a worker to fail to attend his/her child’s school activities is a serious time constraint in the work-family conflict.

Organizations that are determined to offer a balance in work-family roles have to provide just in time employee schedule where employees can volunteer to work overtime according to their own interests (Carlson & Kacmar, 2000, p. 1036). Nonetheless, when a worker fails to go to work because of the babysitter did not turn up for work is a time-based problem on family to work role conflict (Jamal, 2008, p. 66). This is a trick situation and management of overtime may not be beneficial but, helping to find a back-up child care in emergency cases or allowing workers to work from home occasionally when there is an emergency would be valuable.

Energy and Emotional Exhaustion

Sometimes an employee can be too fatigued to do his/her normal daily tasks at work maybe because of having spent the whole night taking care of a sick spouse or child. These results in family to work conflict and solving such a problem may entail provision of work leaves or dependent care supports. On the other hand, a worker can get home extremely exhausted to prepare dinner or clean up due to strenuous work during the day or overtime tasks.

This causes work-family constraints that may cause burnout (Kumar, et al, 2007, p. 309). In order to solve such problem, the employer can increase the number of staff to cover the extra work. The organization can train workers on stress management strategies where they can take breaks at some intervals to refresh and proceed with work. All these examples require appropriate work-family balance to reduce stress and possible burnout (Carlson & Kacmar, 2000, p. 1038).



Research has demonstrated that burnout among employees incites the t leave their job to seek work that is accommodating their time constraints and other needs. Furthermore, burnout has been associated with low worker job satisfaction especially for service providers. Work-life balance is very important in reducing the dissatisfaction among workers regarding their jobs. A determined organization usually seeks to offer its workers work-family balance chances so that they can be able to manage work and life responsibilities comfortably therefore translating into reduced burnout and increased job satisfaction. Eikhof, et al (2007, p. 334) stated that job satisfaction was the most curial component that affect family life more than the number of hours worked.

Burnout Definition

This is a form if psychological stress syndrome where an individual experiences depersonalization, emotional fatigue and reduced personal accomplishment resulting from body’s response to continued exposure to chronic workplace stress (Lambert et al, 2010, p. 39). Many of the researches that have been conducted about this issue have constantly found out that work-family conflicts were directly correlated with burnout (Allen, et al, 2000, p. 278).

Work Flexibility

Annualized hours

Perceived control over working time greatly determines the job satisfaction of employees and this makes them work for hours that they are comfortable (Thompson et al, 2004, p. 547). An annualized hour working arrangement has been seen to result in helping to reduce incidences of burnout among employees. Employees are given the freedom to chose and manage their working days provided that they meet a certain number of worked days a year (White et al, 2003, p. 110).

Main considerations of this provision are that employers can identify peak and off-peak seasons and adapt to the variations. Furthermore, employees can be able to increase performance by working the most productive times of the day (Grzywacz et al, 2008, p. 202). However, flexible working hour present a major challenge of coordinating workers and monitoring performance.

By implementing work-family balance, Workers are able to exploit their potential and effectively dedicate each responsibility some time. Workers are also able to work the allotted time without pressure from family matters. Incase family roles require that period of time, then it can be changes and so on White et al, 2003, p. 110). Working hours can also be allotted in a manner that they leave time for family roles like picking a child from school. Such practices reduce psychological stress and exhaustion

Compressed Hours

This provision allows workers to work for extra hours a day in exchange for lesser working days in a week. Employees benefit by getting a day off work therefore enjoying long weekend to attend to family matters. Workers can effectively reduce the number of days worked per week without reducing the financial gains. Besides helping to attain work-family balance, compressed work allows the employees to be efficient and maximal producers White et al, 2003, p. 110). This reduced family-work conflict because employee are able to retain full time jobs and pay while have extra time to commit to family responsibilities. Besides, the Occupational health and safety provisions demand that employs that are using the flexible hour program have to attend programs that help in coping with stress of longer shifts and enough rest is recommended (Roehling et al, 2001, 78).


This kind of arrangement allows workers to determine when they start and end their works for the day. This arrangement is reached at by agreement between the employer and employee (Roehling et al, 2001, 78).

This arrangement offer employees a discretion that they are able to design their working pattern around their family responsibilities. This way, they were able to manage their workday efficiently and meet organizational goals. This practice has helped to reduced burnout for employees in many organizations and that is why it’s credited for reducing, absenteeism, tardiness and increased in working motivation (Roehling et al, 2001, 79). It’s there and incentive for workers to stick to the organization as loyal workers.

Being able to exploit flextime also provides workers with ability to deal with unexpected family issues like death of a loved or even the predictable demands of the job and personal life like birth. Workers are able to manage their working hours not to work extra hours.


Data were collected through distribution of questionnaires to 300 participants who were randomly selected from different professions including doctors, nurses and lecturers in both public and private practice across major cities. Both men and women took part in the study to enable comparison of gender role on the outcomes (Bailyn & Fletcher, 2003, p. 89). Only 195 participants returned their questionnaires completely filled and these are the ones used for analyses. The researchers are relevant questions to answer the hypothesis of the study. Convenience sampling was used for data collection to obtain valid responses.


The hypothesis was measured by analysis of the variables of work-family conflict and burnout among workers and effects on the organizations. Bad work-family balance practices had a significant effect on burnout. Burnout had a significant outcome on turnover intentions. Burnout had a very high significant effect on worker perceived job satisfaction. Work-family conflict had negligible impact on turnover intention due to burnout. Work-life conflict impact on job satisfaction was considerable hence causing burnout. The worker job satisfaction and turnover intentions were significantly related. These results led to acceptance of the hypothesis.


Dependent Care Programs

Emergency Childcare

This initiative can sometimes be very important especially when the employees are either working parents or single parents (Gray & Tudball, 2003, p. 269). The organization can liaise with another company that offers childcare services (Budd & Mumford, 2005, p. 65). This also assists in reducing the numbers of unexpected absenteeism. Nonetheless, Thai initiative has to be freely accessible and no employee should be coerced to use it by the management (Guthrie, 2001, p. 182).

Closely linked to the concept of childcare services at work, there is also the provision of Children’s’ Access to workplaces. When an organization offers the support to children like subsiding daycare or providing a child faculty, employees benefit by reduced stress (Gray & Tudball, 2003, p. 273).

Child’s Access to Workplace

Many organizations are allowing patterns to come to work with their children so that can care for them or be cared for by care givers employed by the organization. Some scholars argue that this type of arrangement is quite impractical. However, proponents argue that by utilizing this provision (Guthrie, 2001, p. 182).

The challenge to this initiative is that many firms have unwritten policy that children can come to workplaces and be cared for while other say this is unreasonable. Furthermore, the organization may also enhance the risk precautions of the children, extra staff and customers (Guthrie, 2001, p. 184). OSHA declares that a child maybe exclude from attending such child-care services when she/he suffers from an infectious disease.

Workplaces can run daycares for children through a board of directors. Such daycare should comply with the municipal and state government’s regulation and accept even pre-schoolera and infants (Bloom et al, 2009, p. 19). Prents who benefit show less stress becaue they are close to their infants. Childcare centers operate by employing companies can easily accommodate the working schedule of the employees

Emergency Eldercare

Sometimes, workers could require some extract time to take care of elderly people they are taking care of (Budd & Mumford, 2005, p. 65). The organization will help to care for older people via outside-the-home care.

This measure lessens burnout they employees may suffer. Nonetheless, this initiative must not be used for forcing workers to utilize it or authorize any other person to change the policy (Budd & Mumford, 2005, p. 65). Worker absenteeism is greatly reduced when this strategy is implemented.

Reduced working time

Gradual retire

This provision allows employees to progressively reduce the time they work and the workload they carry out in a day spread over an extended period rather than abrupt termination of the job upon retirement. This helps to maintain useful talent would otherwise have retired first and this reduces labor expenses (Bloom et al, 2009, p. 18). The older worker enjoying this service will adaptively adjust into retirement and balance work family issues especially taking care of the other spouse.

Job Sharing

This is a provision where employee shares job responsibilities, holidays and salary. Assessment of the job performance is based on the two people who share the job. This arrangement enables workers to maintain their skills, develop networks and earn some money while still getting time for managing family issues (Hill et al, 2001, 53).

Practical application of this job sharing provision helps the organization by greater performance (Hill et al, 2001, 53). Job sharing means that job responsibilities and working hours are divided among two people and consequently this translates to reduced balance.


Employee is allowed to work lesser hours than the usual 40 hours per week. This may last forever or maybe short-term. This initiative allows worker with disabilities to be linked to labor (Bloom et al, 2009, p. 18). Employees are likely to find more time to care for family roles. However, one possible limitation is that, this could limit access to work benefits like pension and insurance.

This practice also increases operational flexibility of firm when there is so much work to be done. In addition, it is also a chance for employees who have not been in the workforce for a long time to make a comeback (Bloom et al, 2009, p. 18). This arrangement could increase productivity by assisting reduction of absenteeism and tardiness.

Work Benefits and Leave

Flexible benefits are an option for delivery of good-family prates. Workers are able to select the kind of coverge that they are offering which options of health working environment would be. Workers have the power to choose the type of benefit to get and to help the employers to manage costs and other needs (Hill et al, 2001, 53).

Maternity Leave

This leave is meant to allow mothers to have time off duty to deliver and care for their child for some little before resuming work. This leave provides workers with time and benefits to care for the new born baby. As such, the mother does not worry about going back to school (Saltzstein et al, 2001, p. 453).

Parental Leave

This is designed to offer both parent some free time so that they can spend with their families and newborns. Mothers can take the leave after maternity leave so that they can have a longer leave (Guthrieb et al, 2002, p. 184). Fathers are given sometimes to spend home with families. The beneficiaries are usually paid up to 35 week of worker insurance benefits.

Sick Leave

Workers are permitted through this provision a leave when their health is not good this is not usually a leave so. Some companies offer their workers a chance to take part into this program without loss of pay (Guthrieb et al, 2002, p. 184). As part of benefit plan, employees are able to get time of duty and still be paid for it.


This is the component policy of work-family practice and firm assists their employee by proving vacations. When employer re able to fragment the vacation into short periods of time, then manager would not have to seek replacement of crucial employees (Guthrieb et al, 2002, p. 184). Workers are given the opportunity to divide vacation in a manner that would give them big flexibility.


People’s lives have been getting very busy all the time and workers often tend to juggle between work and family roles. There is increased demand for educational roles, leisure and personal lives. Being faced with these struggles of balancing between work and family responsibilities, workers are striving to access workplaces that offer some relief, practical solutions and support for family roles. Organizations that work to support their employees have better solutions to these issues provide a workplace that fosters good work-family practices that help reduce burnout as well.

The major issues that are addressed by the good work-family balance practices include addressing lack of time, exhaustion and less energy, anxiety and guilt of not fulfilling certain roles, stress and a need for greater satisfying life and career. When employees fail to find a balanced life, they use extra energy to strife and meet their obligations, sometimes causing a conflict and they suffer more emotionally stressed and physically fatigued which is a serious burnout effect. Since there is increased awareness of the consequences of burnout, and that factors or practices that lead to reduced work-family conflict also alleviate burnout. Many firms are now considering accommodative policies and programs.

These programs include flexible working arrangements – Job sharing, part-time, compressed work weeks, flextime, part-time arrangements and telework. There may also be worker assistance programs like counseling on a number so matters like personal life or finances. Besides, companies also provide child can elder care program with daycare centers close or writing workplace. To cater for the health and fitness of workers, some organizations have included health wellness initiatives as part of their new policies. Finally, regulatory leaves have been implemented for issues like injuries maternity and education leave among others.

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