When conducting an analysis of data from hospital surveys a few years ago, I noticed that there were 10 people who had made huge improvements on exhaustion and cynicism, the core elements of burnout. They had improved by 3 points or 2 standard deviations on the seven point scale. This is a remarkable change.
I wondered if there was anything in their responses at Time 1 that would predict their improvement on the survey one year later. There was.
The blue bars on the graph show that at Time 1, these 10 people had relatively negative scores on five of the six areas of worklife we assess. The remarkable thing is that they scored more positively than average (the mid-line on the graph) on community. They got along well with their colleagues. In Year 2 everything looks better. [The absence of red bars for Reward and Values indicates that they scored exactly the overall overage, so it does not show up on the graph.]
So, having good relationships with colleagues at Time 1 foreshadowed a better worklife at Time 2. But if they got along so well with their colleagues, why were they having such a hard time with everything else? Perhaps they did not get along with everyone.
We will explore that in the next post.