Examining the relationship between work-life conflict and burnout


  • Brittany Shields
  • Charles Chen University of Toronto




Work-life balance, Burnout, Stress, Organisational careers, Mental health, Wellbeing


The present study empirically examines the overarching research question: what is the relationship between work-life conflict and career burnout in a general adult working population? A sample of eightynine participants completed an online questionnaire. The results suggest a moderate, statistically significant, positive relationship between work-life conflict and burnout. For workplace implications, the results highlight the importance of employers understanding work-life conflict and career burnout among employees. For personal implications, the results capture the significance of engaging in recovery activities to decrease work-life conflict and career burnout. Counselling implications include facilitating client self-understanding of role importance to cope with work-life conflict. 


Ahola, K., Salminen, S., Toppinen-Tanner, S., Koskinen, A., & Väänänen, A. (2013). Occupational burnout and severe injuries: An eight-year prospective cohort study among Finnish forest industry workers. Journal of Occupational Health, 55(6), 450-457. https://doi.org/10.1539/joh.13-0021-OA

Ahola, K., Väänänen, A., Koskinen, A., Kouvonen, A., & Shirom, A. (2010). Burnout as a predictor of all-cause mortality among industrial employees: a 10-year prospective register-linkage study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69(1), 51-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.01.002

Allen, T. D., Herst, D. E., Bruck, C. S., & Sutton, M. (2000). Consequences associated with work-to-family conflict: a review and agenda for future research. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(2), 278-308. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8998.5.2.278

American Psychological Association. (2017). 2017 Work and Well-Being Survey (Rep.). American Psychological Association.

Babakus, E., Yavas, U., & Ashill, N. J. (2010). Service worker burnout and turnover intentions: Roles of person-job fit, servant leadership, and customer orientation. Services Marketing Quarterly, 32(1), 17-31. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332969.2011.533091

Bagherzadeh, R., Taghizadeh, Z., Mohammadi, E., Kazemnejad, A., Pourreza, A., & Ebadi, A. (2016). Relationship of work-family conflict with burnout and marital satisfaction: cross-domain or source attribution relations? Health Promotion Perspectives, 6(1), 31. https://doi.org/10.15171/hpp.2016.05

Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2008). Towards a model of work engagement. Career Development International, 13(3), 209-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430810870476

Brand, S., Beck, J., Hatzinger, M., Harbaugh, A., Ruch, W., & Holsboer-Trachsler, E. (2010). Associations between satisfaction with life, burnout-related emotional and physical exhaustion, and sleep complaints. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 11(5), 744-754. https://doi.org/10.3109/15622971003624205

Brown, D. (1995). A values-based approach to facilitating career transitions. The Career Development Quarterly, 44(1), 4-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-0045.1995.tb00524.x

Byron, K. (2005). A meta-analytic review of work–family conflict and its antecedents. Journal of vocational behavior, 67(2), 169-198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2004.08.009

Cecil, J., McHale, C., Hart, J., & Laidlaw, A. (2014). Behaviour and burnout in medical students. Medical Education Online, 19(1), 25209. https://doi.org/10.3402/meo.v19.25209

de Beer, L. T., Pienaar, J., & Rothmann Jr, S. (2016). Work overload, burnout, and psychological ill-health symptoms: a three-wave mediation model of the employee health impairment process. Anxiety, Stress,& Coping, 29(4), 387-399. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2015.1061123

Deligkaris, P., Panagopoulou, E., Montgomery, A. J., & Masoura, E. (2014). Job burnout and cognitive functioning: a systematic review. Work and Stress, 28(2), 107-123. https://doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2014.909545

Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., & Bulters, A. J. (2004). The loss spiral of work pressure, work–home interference and exhaustion: Reciprocal relations in a three-wave study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64(1), 131-149. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0001-8791(03)00030-7

Demerouti, E., Le Blanc, P. M., Bakker, A. B., Schaufeli, W. B., & Hox, J. (2009). Present but sick: a three-wave study on job demands, presenteeism and burnout. Career Development International, 14(1), 50-68. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430910933574

Dyrbye, L. N., Shanafelt, T. D., Balch, C. M., Satele, D., Sloan, J., & Freischlag, J. (2011). Relationship between work-home conflicts and burnout among American surgeons: a comparison by sex. Archives of Surgery, 146(2), 211-217. https://doi.org/10.1001/archsurg.2010.310.

Farhadi, A., Movahedi, Y., Nalchi, M., Daraei, M., & Mohammadzadegan, R. (2013). The relationship between Work-family conflict, burnout dimensions and intention to leave among female nurses. Iran Journal of Nursing, 26(84), 34-43.

Fortney, L., Luchterhand, C., Zakletskaia, L., Zgierska, A., & Rakel, D. (2013). Abbreviated mindfulness intervention for job satisfaction, quality of life, and compassion in primary care clinicians: a pilot study. The Annals of Family Medicine, 11(5), 412-420. https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.1511

Frone, M. R., Russell, M., & Barnes, G. M. (1996). Work–family conflict, gender, and health-related outcomes: A study of employed parents in two community samples. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(1), 57. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8998.1.1.57

Frone, M. R., Russell, M., & Cooper, M. L. (1993). Relationship of work-family conflict, gender, and alcohol expectancies to alcohol use/abuse. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(6), 545-558. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.4030140604

Frone, M. R., Yardley, J. K., & Markel, K. S. (1997). Developing and testing an integrative model of the work–family interface. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 50(2), 145-167. https://doi.org/10.1006/jvbe.1996.1577

Grandey, A., & Cropanzano, R. (1999). The conservation of resources model applied to work–family conflict and strain. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 54(2), 350-370.https://doi.org/10.1006/jvbe.1998.1666

Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10(1), 76-88. https://doi.org/10.2307/258214

Hallsten, L., Voss, M., Stark, S., & Josephson, M. (2011). Job burnout and job wornout as risk factors for longterm sickness absence. Work, 38(2), 181-192. https://doi.org/10.3233/WOR-2011-1120

Hatfield, M. O. (1990). Stress and the American worker. American Psychologist, 45(10), 1162. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.45.10.1162

Kim, H., Ji, J., & Kao, D. (2011). Burnout and physical health among social workers: A three-year longitudinal study. Social Work, 56(3), 258-268. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/56.3.258

Kossek, E., & Ozeki, C. (1998). Work–family conflict, policies, and the job–life satisfaction relationship: A review and directions for organizational behavior–human resources research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(2), 139. doi: 10.1037//0021-9010.83.2.139

Kristensen, T. S., Borritz, M., Villadsen, E., & Christensen, K. B. (2005). The Copenhagen Burnout Inventory: A new tool for the assessment of burnout. Work and Stress, 19(3), 192-207. https://doi.org/10.1080/02678370500297720

Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (2009). Nurse turnover: the mediating role of burnout. Journal of Nursing Management, 17(3), 331-339. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2834.2009.01004.x

Leone, S. S., Huibers, M. J., Knottnerus, J. A., & Kant, I. (2009). The temporal relationship between burnout and prolonged fatigue: a 4-year prospective cohort study. Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 25(4), 365-374. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.1280

Lingard, H. (2004). Work and family sources of burnout in the Australian engineering profession: Comparison of respondents in dual-and single-earner couples, parents, and nonparents. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 130(2), 290-298. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9364(2004)130:2(290)

Madsen, I. E., Lange, T., Borritz, M., & Rugulies, R. (2015). Burnout as a risk factor for antidepressant treatment–a repeated measures time-to-event analysis of 2936 Danish human service workers. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 65, 47-52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.04.004

Major, V. S., Klein, K. J., & Ehrhart, M. G. (2002). Work time, work interference with family, and psychological distress. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(3), 427. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.87.3.427

Maslach, C., Jackson, S., & Leiter, M. (1996). Burnout inventory manual. Consulting Psychologists.

Mete, M., Ünal, Ö. F., & Bilen, A. (2014). Impact of work-family conflict and burnout on performance of accounting professionals. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 131, 264-270. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.04.115

Michel, A. (2016). Burnout and the Brain. APS Observer, 29(2).

Netemeyer, R. G., Boles, J. S., & McMurrian, R. (1996). Development and validation of work–family conflict and family–work conflict scales. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(4), 400. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.81.4.400

Oppenheimer, D. M., Meyvis, T., & Davidenko, N. (2009). Instructional manipulation checks: Detecting satisficing to increase statistical power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 867-872. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2009.03.009

Paolacci, G., & Chandler, J. (2014). Inside the Turk: Understanding Mechanical Turk as a participant pool. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(3), 184-188. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721414531598

Perrone, K. M., Civiletto, C. L., Webb, L. K., & Fitch, J. C. (2004). Perceived barriers to and supports of the attainment of career and family goals among academically talented individuals. International Journal of Stress Management, 11(2), 114. https://doi.org/10.1037/1072-5245.11.2.114

Porter, G. (2004). Work, work ethic, work excess. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17, 424-439. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534810410554461

Robinson, B. E. (2000). Workaholism: Bridging the gap between workplace, sociocultural, and family research. Journal of Employment Counselling. 37, 31-47. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1920.2000.tb01024.x

Savic, I. (2013). Structural changes of the brain in relation to occupational stress. Cerebral Cortex, 25(6), 1554-1564. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bht348

Schaufeli, W. B., & Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A multi-sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 25(3), 293-315. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.248

Schaufeli, W. B., Maassen, G. H., Bakker, A. B., & Sixma, H. J. (2011). Stability and change in burnout: A 10- year follow-up study among primary care physicians. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84(2), 248-267. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8325.2010.02013.x

Shanafelt, T. D., Balch, C. M., Bechamps, G. J., Russell, T., Dyrbye, L., Satele, D., ... & Freischlag, J. A. (2009). Burnout and career satisfaction among American surgeons. Annals of Surgery, 250(3), 463-471. https://doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181ac4dfd.

Shanafelt, T. D., Balch, C. M., Bechamps, G., Russell, T., Dyrbye, L., Satele, D., ... & Freischlag, J. (2010). Burnout and medical errors among American surgeons. Annals of Surgery, 251(6), 995-1000. https://doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181bfdab3

Shanafelt, T. D., Hasan, O., Dyrbye, L. N., Sinsky, C., Satele, D., Sloan, J., & West, C. P. (2015). Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physicians and the general US working population between 2011 and 2014. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 90, No. 12, pp. 1600-1613). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.08.023

Sharf, R. S. (2016). Applying career development theory to counseling. Nelson Education.

Sholi, S., Beshlideh, K., Hashemi, S. S., & Arshadi, N. (2011). An investigation of the relationship between neuroticism, work-family conflict, role overload, procedural justice, distributive justice and job control with job burnout in employees of Ahvaz gas company.

Soler, J. K., Yaman, H., Esteva, M., Dobbs, F., Asenova, R. S., Katić, M., ... & Kotányi, P. (2008). Burnout in European family doctors: the EGPRN study. Family Practice, 25(4), 245-265. https://doi.org/10.1093/fampra/cmn038

ten Brummelhuis, L. L., & Bakker, A. B. (2012). Staying engaged during the week: The effect of off-job activities on next day work engagement. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(4), 445. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029213

Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2013). The impact of job crafting on job demands, job resources, and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 230. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032141

Toker, S., Melamed, S., Berliner, S., Zeltser, D., & Shapira, I. (2012). Burnout and risk of coronary heart disease: a prospective study of 8838 employees. Psychosomatic Medicine, 74(8), 840-847. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e31826c3174

van der Heijden, F., Dillingh, G., Bakker, A., & Prins, J. (2008). Suicidal thoughts among medical residents with burnout. Archives of Suicide Research, 12(4), 344-346. https://doi.org/10.1080/13811110802325349

Wang, Y., Chang, Y., Fu, J., & Wang, L. (2012). Workfamily conflict and burnout among Chinese female nurses: the mediating effect of psychological capital. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 915. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-915

Waumsley, J. A., Houston, D. M., & Marks, G. (2010). What about us? Measuring the work-life balance of people who do not have children. Review of European Studies, 2(2), 3. https://doi.org/10.5539/res.v2n2p3

World Health Organization. (2019). Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International classification of diseases. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en

Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of management review, 26(2), 179-201. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2001.4378011

Yavas, U., Babakus, E., & Karatepe, O. M. (2008). Attitudinal and behavioral consequences of work-family conflict and family-work conflict: does gender matter?. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 19(1), 7-31. https://doi.org/10.1108/09564230810855699