Factors influencing work satisfaction of single parents in the South African National Defence Force: an exploratory study

  • Kgomotso T. Matjeke
  • Gideon A.J. van Dyk


There has been a documented increase in single-parent families over the years. Various causes, such as divorce, death, irresponsible fathers and choice, to mention but a few, contribute to this increase. Since 2005, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been partaking in various peacekeeping missions on the continent. The deployment of the SANDF is, however, not limited to cross-border activities. The SANDF also deploys its soldiers within the country in border control operations. While some soldiers are deployed within and outside the borders of the country, others remain in the home bases to continue with daily tasks. These soldiers usually work from 08:00–16:00, Monday to Friday. There are instances, however, where they need to work beyond the normal working hours and over weekends to participate in training exercises or even as a result of being deployed. Because of their single-parent status, these soldiers face inherent military challenges as well as role-related ones, which may influence their work satisfaction.

The research reported here aimed to investigate the relationships between stress, work–family conflict, social support and work–family enrichment (WFE) in terms of work satisfaction of single parents in the SANDF.

The sample consisted of 200 regular force SANDF soldiers (comprising 101 single parents and 99 dual parents). All the questionnaires utilised in this study were found to be reliable in an African military sample. Structural model analysis conducted through PLS 3 revealed that only three of the four documented challenges influenced single-parent work satisfaction. Stress did not influence satisfaction, while a lack of social support, work–family conflict (WFC) and WFE influenced work satisfaction. Social support was found to have a moderating effect on work satisfaction while WFC and WFE had a direct influence. These results support the view that commanders need to be sensitised to allow more social support for single parents, and military psychologists could enrich single parents with support programmes.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0020
print ISSN: 1022-8136