Burnout is a word we use and hear almost every day when someone is tired – at work, school, and even at home. It even brought many people to nearly giving up during this time of the pandemic. But experts say that we may have gotten the definition of burnout wrong. Did you know that burnout can actually be measured?

In 1981, Christina Maslach, a psychology professor at the University of California, developed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). This test shows the stages of burnout using three benchmarks: lack of motivation, pessimism, and decreased productivity. If a person received negative scores on all, he or she is considered burnt out. “People use burnout as a synonym for tired, and they’re missing the point that there’s a world of difference between those two states,” Michael Leiter, Maslach’s co-author of “The Truth About Burnout,” said. The MBI findings show that the largest group of people experiencing burnout are those who aren’t fully engaged in their work. Some employees, for example, go to work because they have bills to pay, not because they find interest in what they do.

Burnout, however, doesn’t only have two stages of “yes” or “no.” In fact, Maslach and Leiter revealed three additional profiles in between the MBI test in their newest studies: exhausted, ineffective, and disengaged. People who fall under any of these categories don’t have burnout but are getting there. The “good” thing is that burnout is oftentimes not an individual issue, and the environment can cause the person to feel it. This is why MBI and other related tests are useful in determining burnout and preventing or getting rid of it. Do you want to take the test now that you know how it is measured?