How are the tools for measuring burnout at work evolving?

Burnout at Work
How measuring burnout has advanced in reliability and condensed from the traditional MBI method to BAT. 

Since the 70s Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) has been universally recognized as the golden standard in measuring burnout and is used in an estimated 88% of all scientific papers on burnout, MBI defines burnout as exhaustion, cynicism, and lack of professional efficacy, respectively. In addition, it measures three factors, labeled initially as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. 

However, the MBI method of measurement has been criticized for: 

  1. Skewed answering patterns that may affect its reliability. 
  2. Reversing positively worded items for evaluating a negative psychological state.
  3. Producing three different subscale scores instead of a single composite burnout score. 

Recently, a new form of measurement called the Burnout Assessment Tool (BAT) has emerged. Researchers of BAT have identified three flaws with MBI:

  1. Problems with the conceptualization of burnout and if reduced professional efficacy is a constituent part of burnout. 
  2. The MBI suffers from technical and psychometric shortcomings.
  3. The practical applicability of the MBI for individual burnout assessment is relatively poor. 

BAT was designed to overcome the flaws of the MBI by developing a novel burnout instrument that is suited for a group- and individual-based assessment of burnout. Their research aims to be pursued in both a qualitative and quantitative nature, respectively.

First, through formulating an alternative conceptualization of burnout, which is comprehensive and includes all relevant elements that are associated with burnout as conceived by practitioners. Second, based on this new conceptualization—a novel questionnaire that is psychometrically sound and practically useful for the assessment of burnout.

After the results from BAT’s study proved to be a viable, alternative burnout measure that assesses the burnout syndrome as such (total score), as well as its core components and secondary symptoms, researchers began seeking a way to shorten the survey to include only 12 items instead of the original 23. The motivation to conduct a shortened survey is partially due to burnout questionnaires typically being included in employee surveys to evaluate psychosocial risk factors, which according to the European Occupational Safety and Health Framework Directive, should be carried out in organizations regularly. 

The BAT12 fulfills the measurement criteria according to the Rasch model after accounting for local dependency between items within each subscale. The four subscales can be combined into a single burnout score. The new BAT12 developed in the present study maintains the breadth of item content of the original version of the BAT. The new BAT12 has good psychometric properties. The scale works invariantly for older and younger, women and men, and across two countries. A shorter version of the BAT is timesaving compared to the BAT23 and can be used in e.g. employee surveys.

The evolution of burnout measurement from MBI to BAT12 signals an encouraging trend that accurate assessment can be shortened while increasing validity. Rift Valley aims to use our innovative technology to take this a step forward in creating a method to measure burnout through minimal input from employees continuously and effectively, saving employees time while facilitating a sustainable way for employers to maintain real-time measurement.