The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), designed by Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson in the late 1970s, stands as an important achievement in understanding and addressing burnout, especially in professions involving significant emotional labor. The first version of the test was targeted at medical personnel, and was later followed by versions for educators, students, and the general version for other professions. Driven by the need to quantify burnout’s intricate dimensions, the MBI emerged as a comprehensive tool for gauging emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment—a triumvirate that encapsulates the complexities of burnout experienced by individuals.
Almost 50 years later, the definition of burnout proposed by Maslach still holds valid; in 2019, WHO included a similar definition of burnout in the International Classification of Diseases (https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases ):
Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.
The MBI’s architecture revolves around three core dimensions that form the foundation of its burnout model:
- Emotional Exhaustion: This facet assesses the depletion of emotional resources caused by prolonged exposure to work-related stressors, capturing the emotional fatigue that typifies burnout. Although MBI does not take into account the physiological aspects of burnout, emotional exhaustion always accompanies characteristic for burnout feelings of tiredness, sleeplessness, etc.
- Depersonalization: Also known as cynicism, this dimension examines the development of a detached and impersonal response towards others, often arising as a coping mechanism in response to emotional exhaustion.
- Reduced Personal Accomplishment: Gauging an individual’s perceptions of their professional efficacy, this component identifies instances where one’s sense of achievement and competence wanes due to burnout, regardless of the objective value of the individual’s contribution.
Use for Organizations
The MBI holds immense value for both organizations and individuals. Organizations benefit from its diagnostic ability, as it aids in identifying burnout-related concerns, enabling targeted interventions to boost employee well-being and engagement. This translates to improved organizational outcomes, such as enhanced performance and reduced turnover.
The test frequently used along the MBI is Areas of Worklife Survey (AWL) designed by dr. Michael P. Leiter to evaluate the six factors contributing to burnout. You can take the test here: https://supportbymonika.com/assessments/awl/.
Select an option which describes the frequency of the stated emotions or behaviors. Leave your email to receive results.