What to know about new nurses: Social media

Nurse Leader Insider, March 3, 2016

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For many older nurses, the idea of bringing their personal lives, in the form of social media, to work is the height of unprofessionalism. But for young nurses, social media is a major part of their lives, and denying them access would cause equal outrage. So how do you navigate this intergenerational minefield?

The most important thing about managing social media in the workplace is setting limits without becoming the social media police. Coming up with a clear policy, then properly communicating with your entire staff, is the first step. You could try permitting phone use only in the break rooms, and never in-front of patients. Set topical boundaries as well; remind your staff that they should never share hospital or patient information on social media, and pay special attention to not include any private information in photographs. Once you come up with guidelines, make sure you communicate them to your entire staff, and model your own behavior to set the example.

If you do end up having to discipline an employee for a social media violation, make sure it is fair and consistent. If possible, work with other administrators in the facility to ensure that everyone follows the same policy, and be sure to involve human resources when necessary. You may end up dealing with situations you never considered, so try to be flexible and fair if you end up in a situation not covered by guidelines.

In addition to a staff policy, you should also come up with a personal policy. You may find your staff trying to connect with you on social media platforms, and it’s important to maintain a consistent stance. Many managers find it easiest to deny all connection requests with their subordinates, as you may find it difficult to maintain a work-life balance when making staff decisions. And if you decide to connect with some but not all of your staff, you leave yourself open to criticism when making important decisions. The last thing you want is accusations of favoritism when deciding promotions, layoffs, etc.

This is a thorny issue without many clear solutions. For more advice about how to manage social media in your workplace, check out Managing the Intergenerational Nursing Team.

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