Original Research

Work-family conflict and work engagement among mothers: Conscientiousness and neuroticism as moderators

Tracy J. Opie, Carolina M. Henn
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 39, No 1 | a1082 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v39i1.1082 | © 2013 Tracy J. Opie, Carolina M. Henn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 November 2012 | Published: 22 July 2013

About the author(s)

Tracy J. Opie, Department of Industrial Psychology & People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Carolina M. Henn, Department of Industrial Psychology & People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: The study investigates factors that impact work-family conflict and work engagement among working mothers.

Research purpose: The job demand-resources model is utilised to investigate the moderating role of conscientiousness and neuroticism on the relationship between work-family conflict and work engagement.

Motivation for the study: Working mothers are challenged to establish a balance between work and family life. The resulting work-family conflict can negatively affect well-being. It is thus necessary to explore personal factors that relate to work-family conflict, particularly in the South African context.

Research design, approach and method: A quantitative, cross-sectional survey design was used. The sample (N = 267) was comprised of working mothers from several organisations. Data was gathered using the work-to-family conflict questionnaire, the Basic Traits Inventory and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale.

Main findings: The results indicated that work-family conflict negatively predicts work engagement. Conscientiousness positively predicts work engagement, and neuroticism negatively predicts work engagement. A significant interaction effect was found for conscientiousness but not for neuroticism. The findings showed that for participants with high levels of conscientiousness, work engagement decreases significantly more with an increase in work-family conflict than for participants with low levels of conscientiousness.

Practical/Managerial implications: Organisations should consider those individuals who have high levels of conscientiousness and low levels of neuroticism in the selection and placement of employees. In addition, organisations have a responsibility to provide conscientious women, particularly mothers, with adequate support to ensure that work-family conflict does not adversely impact their levels of work engagement.


Job Demands-Resources Model; Personal resources; Working mothers; Workplace wellbeing; Personality as moderator; Neuroticism; Conscientiousness


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