The concept of workplace burnout and popular press solutions such as ‘visit a spa’, ‘take a nap’, or ‘treat yourself’,  are embedded in the idea that workplace burnout is as an individual problem.  Therefore, it is often argued that ‘self-care’ to reduce this stress must be the antidote.  

It is this thinking that actually removes the onus of the business sector from the work-life equation and hides the need for a more systemic solution to employee wellbeing and work sustainability.  In short,  viewing the issue of ‘burnout’ and dropping workplace retention particularly post 2020 / 2021 pandemic through the lens of  ‘ its an individual problem’,  sees one particular group even further disadvantaged in any labour market solution: single parents.

Single parent families in Australia are not new.  in June 2021, ABS reported that Australians in a solo-parenting role represented 15% of all families – that’s 1.1 million families. The vast majority (81%) are single mother families, and 52% of these families had a child 9 years or younger.   Of all the single parent families in Australia with a child under 15 years, only 63% were in a job.  That’s 416,000 of the 1.1 million single parent families unable to find or maintain work.

While we understand the correlation between higher employment rates for one parent families and the age of dependants,  there are many mitigating factors impacting the sustainability of employment for single parents.  Not withstanding the data, the issues become clearer when we examine the underlying principles of work access as an individual problem rather than an organisational one.

Businesses and organisations need to forgo the assumption that all parents are in couple families, where one partner may be home when family crises arise, if the other can’t be.   When businesses presume all employees have support systems in place, they make unrealistic demands on time that single parents just can’t meet.   Single parents end up juggling on-demand 24/7, the responsibilities at home, the needs of their children and attending to work commitments. All of this takes a toll on emotional and physical well-being.   And when it comes to burnout — feeling depleted, cynical, and ineffective – there is a growing body of research that shows organisations and work cultures, not individuals, are the root of the problem.


Work Solutions is a Not For Profit organisation that is advocating for smarter work options and better workplace experiences for single parents.  Workplaces that are mindful of the challenges that the work-life relationship can throw up.  Rather than have these challenges result in loss of w0rk, less opportunity to care for children at home, or greater risks of poverty – Working Solutions collaborates with Australian businesses to find a better way for single parents to enter and remain in the workforce in a sustainable and positive way.

Working Solutions seeks innovative collaborations for flexible work options to advance opportunities for single parents and reduce the risk of poverty as the only option.




Leave a Reply