Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Psychological terms adapted to the new social situation often filter through to our everyday life, becoming familiar to us, and with a bit of interest from our part we become experts in the subject. Currently society talks of empathy 2.0, which makes us ask the question, as our Zyncro author Mertxe Pasamontes points out in her blog, “how can we feel connected to someone we can’t see or hear?”. There is also a lot of talk about emotional intelligence, a skill that can even be applied to the business environment, as Jose Luis del Campo Villares explained, and in addition, about even lesser-known concepts, such as cyberbullying. But… Where do terms as common as stress fit into the current organizational reality? Has this term also evolved?
I mention all this because a while ago I started to feel a familiar, but new, state of mind due to the continual generation of content on Social Networks: stress or should I say cyber-stress.
According to Selye, stress is the body’s non-specific response to a demand placed on it, in which various defense mechanisms enter into play in order to deal with the situation perceived as threatening:
I’ve got to check my Facebook; the article I published yesterday has been retweeted ten times; I’m going to pin that great photo; wait, wait, I’ll just check in at Foursquare and we’ll go in… All these expressions sound familiar, don’t they? Do you feel a certain level of pressure to develop and create more and more content every day which, in addition, has to be interesting? Well, what you’re feeling is cyber-stress.
Various American university studies have shown an increase in sleeping disorders and common physiological responses to stress from the continual use of technology connecting us to Social Networks. In fact, according to Dr. Eric Darr, from Harrisburg University, “students realized that if social media, particularly Facebook and instant messaging, isn’t used properly, it can take over their lives”.
With this statement, we could believe that Social Networks create stress, this so-called cyber-stress, but, let’s look beyond this. There are studies that show pretty much the opposite: the use (which isn’t abuse) of Social Networks can even reduce work stress. Furthermore, research by neuroeconomist Paul J. Zack reveals that a 10-minute break from work to access and interact on Twitter or other Social Networks increases the level of oxytocin (the empathy hormone, which helps work more collaboratively), and also extols our social connections and relationships. In summary, it has been demonstrated that people who use and interact with a Social Network during working hours and take a break from their tasks return refreshed and their performance increases.
In this regard, to alleviate the possible cyber-stress of your employees, and as relationships on Social Networks release oxytocin, working with an Enterprise Social Network could be very beneficial for releasing stress, because employees generate value within the organization, they feel more involved and create social relationships. All of this helps organizations to grow and evolve, because when all is said and done, a company is nothing more than the people in it.