Blogging as a strategy to improve workplace performance?

June 3, 2008

Interesting article in Scientific American about research suggesting potential benefits of blogging for those coping with serious illness. Journaling as therapy isn’t new. And, it isn’t surprising that connecting with others and being part of a community (an added value of blogging) is healthful.

However, I can’t help but think that for those looking to improve performance for employees in a stressful workplace (healthcare, military, emergency response workers, etc.) blogging may prove a sound instructional strategy. I know I would rather write than take a one-time course about managing stress. Perhaps a blended instructional strategy? (coping with stress knowledge + technical support + blog + ongoing support = instructional strategy for the problem of [retention, cost of mistakes from stress-related lack of sleep, work-life balance, etc., etc.)

We know the use of technology provides learners more flexibility. (It’s kind of hard to get together physically in a group at 3 AM when you can’t sleep. Or connect with those dealing with similar issues who are not physically close by.)

Neuroscientist Alice Flaherty, who studies, among other things, hypergraphia (uncontrollable urge to write) is quoted in the article…

…blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.

The research is speculative at this point. Many theories. And I’m certainly speculating here. But there are a lot of blogs built around stressful topics so, in practice, perhaps it does lead to physiological benefits like better sleep habits.

  • http://christinemartell.com/ Christine Martell

    Janet,
    I don’t know. So many organizations have over-working cultures where one is perceived as less skilled if you find it stressful. Yes, I do believe it would be helpful to be able to process stress factors in a blog. Would I do it? I don’t’ know. I would be concerned about unknown readers perceiving me differently (which could be better or worse).

    It would take trust building and assurance of the information not being used for performance review? And I’m not sure that is possible, since you can say you are not using particular information (and avoid its direct use), but it is still coloring your perception.

    Gets complex in a work environment!

  • http://christinemartell.com Christine Martell

    Janet,
    I don’t know. So many organizations have over-working cultures where one is perceived as less skilled if you find it stressful. Yes, I do believe it would be helpful to be able to process stress factors in a blog. Would I do it? I don’t’ know. I would be concerned about unknown readers perceiving me differently (which could be better or worse).

    It would take trust building and assurance of the information not being used for performance review? And I’m not sure that is possible, since you can say you are not using particular information (and avoid its direct use), but it is still coloring your perception.

    Gets complex in a work environment!

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com Dave Ferguson

    Do you mean blogging as an instructional strategy, or as a tool for monitoring and managing your performance? Maybe it’s a question of providing the support and allowing people to choose — the kind of thing that happens with employee assistance programs.

    I think Christine raises some valid issues. In fact, I’d say that in some organizations, over-work is like a large glass of whisky: there’s no such thing.

    Maybe there’s a roll for a site on which I’d appear anonymous, where I could analyze and identify the stressors in my life, and where I might get guidance for what to do about them.

    That could lead to a virtual community, though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to reveal enough about myself that coworkers woud recognize me.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Christine – yes, it is quite complex when held up to the mirror of many corporate cultures. A trusting environment is key.
    Dave- yes, i meant instructional strategy.

    I guess therapists don’t need to worry about job loss due to self-medicating via blog.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Christine – yes, it is quite complex when held up to the mirror of many corporate cultures. A trusting environment is key.
    Dave- yes, i meant instructional strategy.

    I guess therapists don’t need to worry about job loss due to self-medicating via blog.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey
  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey
  • http://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/ Joan Vinall-Cox

    Hi Janet,
    You might find this research interesting –
    http://pennebaker.socialpsychology.org/ and
    http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Faculty/Pennebaker/Home2000/WritingandHealth.html
    He looks for actual physical effects from writing.

  • http://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/ Joan Vinall-Cox

    Hi Janet,
    You might find this research interesting –
    http://pennebaker.socialpsychology.org/ and
    http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Faculty/Pennebaker/Home2000/WritingandHealth.html
    He looks for actual physical effects from writing.

  • http://elearningtech.blogspot.com/ Tony Karrer

    Janet – why the question mark after the title? While it’s not quite something that you mandate, it’s certainly something that is known to be a good learning tool for improving workplace performance.

  • http://elearningtech.blogspot.com Tony Karrer

    Janet – why the question mark after the title? While it’s not quite something that you mandate, it’s certainly something that is known to be a good learning tool for improving workplace performance.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Thanks Joan. Indeed, very interesting.

    Tony – I don’t know how much research there is on blogging and its effectiveness in improving workplace performance(being a relatively new media…10 yrs or so). I’ve seen some but proof of effectiveness appears to be primarily anecdotal. Several case studies come to mind. Often, that’s good enough for an organization.

    Blogging is good for me personally but doesn’t help me publish research any faster or better. In fact, it can be a time sink. (Especially when I’m doing stupid shit like mosaics.)

    In retrospect, my question mark was poorly placed. My intent was to question the stress reduction/blogging relationship as a way to improve performance.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Thanks Joan. Indeed, very interesting.

    Tony – I don’t know how much research there is on blogging and its effectiveness in improving workplace performance(being a relatively new media…10 yrs or so). I’ve seen some but proof of effectiveness appears to be primarily anecdotal. Several case studies come to mind. Often, that’s good enough for an organization.

    Blogging is good for me personally but doesn’t help me publish research any faster or better. In fact, it can be a time sink. (Especially when I’m doing stupid shit like mosaics.)

    In retrospect, my question mark was poorly placed. My intent was to question the stress reduction/blogging relationship as a way to improve performance.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    Do you mean blogging as an instructional strategy, or as a tool for monitoring and managing your performance? Maybe it's a question of providing the support and allowing people to choose — the kind of thing that happens with employee assistance programs.

    I think Christine raises some valid issues. In fact, I'd say that in some organizations, over-work is like a large glass of whisky: there's no such thing.

    Maybe there's a roll for a site on which I'd appear anonymous, where I could analyze and identify the stressors in my life, and where I might get guidance for what to do about them.

    That could lead to a virtual community, though I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to reveal enough about myself that coworkers woud recognize me.

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