Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

Social Media and Occupational Health

Can social media be an occupational health hazard? It’s an important question to ask if organizations want to protect their most valuable resource: the healthy and happy employee.

As more organizations recognize and implement emerging media into their operations, they will need to hire and train and develop qualified employees who can perform customer service, corporate communications and other core processes of business in the 21st Century.

For social media to work, it has to flow naturally. It can’t be a job.

AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH

Social media can be fun. It can be informing. It can be utilitarian. It might even be profitable.

It can also be insidious. It can infiltrate into people’s lives. It can distract from what matters.

Social media blurs the personal and the professional.

It may even re-wire our brains and alter our levels of dopamine.

So: is it conceivable that social media could be an occupational hazard?

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

We will need more research and feedback and stories in order to have a deep understanding of social media’s effect on us.

In between the two extremes of Social Media is harmless to Social Media is the end of culture, is the truth of what social media is doing for (or to) us.

Until we gather the scientific evidence, it’s only responsible that organizations consider the consequences of how they integrate social media within the enterprise:

  • What to do when an employee is on the receiving end of abusive comments, tweets, etc.?
  • How do you handle online stalking? In what ways is management responsible for officially sanctioned Foursquare check-ins?
  • For employees who work at home, what opportunities will they have for routine face-to-face time with others?
  • Will governmental agencies get involved in occupational social media? (Reach for your Kafka.)
  • Will we see a new form of employee litigation over social media in the workplace?
  • If social media addiction is a true pathology, how do you monitor for it? How do you intervene? (Don’t be too quick to laugh this off.)

These are just some things to consider. They aren’t intended to scare away. But management has a responsibility to ensure that employees are safe, productive and healthy.

NO! IS NOT RESPONSIBLE

The responsable answer to the potential occupational hazards of social media isn’t: This is too much of a risky prospect, so let’s just pass on it.

No, that’s irresponsible and counter-productive given today’s technological conditions. It not only fails the customer: it fails the investor too.

No, the responsible answer is to explore the entire spectrum of possible benefits and costs of bringing social media into daily work life and developing a comprehensive and inclusive plan on balancing the pluses and minuses.

SOCIAL IRL IS IRREPLACEABLE

If employees are given the resources they need to do their work, are encouraged to enjoy what they do and are allowed to express their concerns, social media won’t pose the hazards they would if management doesn’t care.

Is Social Media truly Social? In a sense, yes: it can enhance existing relationships and help ignite new ones.

But it can also produce the illusion of social, replacing the deeper meanings that arise from the kinds of social interactions we were born to cultivate with the veneer of friendliness.

When you hear that someone you love has died, which will you want: a tweet about it, or a pair of arms to hold you in silence?

What organizations need more than social media are social business designs. Meaning: organizations need to create working conditions that pull people together while ensuring they have time and space to reflect and process and create.

Health is social. No doubt about. A social workplace is a healthy workplace – with or without social media.

Our upcoming Webinar Healthcare Social Media: Perspectives in Practice includes a presentation on professional development. Learn more and sign up here.

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