Conflict and Social Technologies in the Workplace

Social, Legal, and Ethical Ramifications of Social Technologies in the Workplace

The use of social technologies in the healthcare environment is a relatively new area of nursing management. Therefore, it is difficult to establish the social, legal, and ethical implications of the same. However, some studies have tried to explore this issue by suggesting that there are possible risks associated with social technology use in the workplace (Ventola, 2014; Hader, 2009). For example, from an ethical standpoint, the misuse of company resources, the emergence of conflicts of interest, and employee disparagement are some issues that emerge from the use of social technologies in the workplace (Denecke et al., 2015). Legally, the inappropriate use of social technologies may lead to lawsuits, especially when patients or employees contravene certain codes of conduct governing their behavior in the workplace (Alichnie, 2012). Socially, they could lead to reputation damage and poor mental health (Alichnie, 2012).

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My organization, Orchard Health Care Center (Arizona), which is a nursing home for the elderly, does not have a social technology policy. However, all the employees are required to abide by specific rules governing their behavior in the organization. For example, they are required to uphold confidentiality in their practice. As a legal safeguard in the facility, all the employees are also supposed to refrain from issuing negative comments about the organization (publicly) or speaking on its behalf (unless authorized). These measures have always existed in the organization and are part of the code of conduct governing employee behavior. Although not explicitly stated, the employees are also supposed to observe the same when using social technologies.

The lack of social technology policy at my workplace has created problems for the administration because the employees have had trouble maintaining the confidentiality of their practice on social media platforms. In one incident, a nursing assistant posted a photo on Instagram holding the hand of an elderly patient with the caption “holding her hand until she sleeps.” One of her colleagues commented on the photo with the patient’s name. Consequently, the administration suspended them for breaching nursing-patient confidentiality because they were not supposed to reveal the patient’s details on a public platform. This example shows that the lack of social technology policy at the Orchard Healthcare Center is a problem for the organization because it blurs the line between personal and professional relationships. Denecke et al. (2015) also manifest this challenge by showing that professional and personal relationships could be blurred through inappropriate social media use.

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Toxic and disruptive employees are a source of conflict for many organizations (Brinkert, 2010; Porath, 2016). They have a significant impact on workplace dynamics with the most important being a decline in employee morale (Porath, 2016). This problem often manifests because of an increase in employee dissatisfaction, as affected workers feel drained of energy by toxic employees. A conversation to address this problem is presented in the script below.

Conversation Script

This conversation script is based on the framework of Manion (2011) for delivering bad news. It involves six steps that include setting up an interview, assessing an employee’s perception of the problem, obtaining an employee’s invitation, giving knowledge and information to the employees, and assessing an employee’s emotions with empathy, and strategy.

Step 1 Hello, Could we meet in my office?
Step 2 Do you understand why I have called you? Are you aware of any type of conflict that may exist between you and other employees?
Step 3 If this is a serious issue for you, would you like to know what they are saying or what we think of the same?
Step 4 (Depending on the employee’s response) The situation does appear to be more serious than that because we believe that it needs to be corrected since it is affecting different aspects of our workplace performance. Consequently, we think that we need to reassign your job task.
Step 5 We understand you may have issues or concerns, but it is important to find a middle-ground for all of the employees
Step 6 If you have any questions or need further assistance with what we have discussed do not hesitate to contact me.

I would enlist the help of management to isolate the toxic employees through task reassignment. The goal of doing so would be to put some distance between the toxic employees and the rest of the workers. This strategy may involve reassigning projects or rearranging the office layout. Porath (2016) lauds some of these recommendations through suggestions he proposes to reduce the effects of toxic employees in the workplace.

Task reassignment is a strategy that has been employed in my organization because there was an incident involving one employee who was abrasive with his colleagues. His colleagues were uncomfortable around him because they felt he took up most of the time talking about people and not necessarily doing what he was supposed to. Consequently, one of the employees reported him to the superiors and he was reassigned to work in a different department. There was a general sense of relief among most of the workers who felt that they finally had room to accomplish their task with the exit of the employee from the department. In his new department, minimal interaction with other workers was expected.

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Brinkert, R. (2010). A literature review of conflict communication causes, costs, benefits and interventions in nursing. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(2), 145-156.

Manion, J. (2011). From management to leadership: Strategies for transforming health care (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Porath, C. (2016). Isolate toxic employees to reduce their negative effects. Web.

Alichnie, C. (2012). Social media and nursing. Pennsylvania Nurse, 67(1), 3-10.

Denecke, K., Bamidis, P., Bond, C., Gabarron, E., Househ, M., Lau, A. Y. S., …Hansen, M. (2015). Ethical issues of social media usage in healthcare. Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 10(1), 137-147. Web.

Hader, R. (2009). Tweeting – Not just for the birds. Nursing Management, 40(12), 6.

Ventola, C. L. (2014). Social media and health care professionals: benefits, risks, and best practices. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 39(7), 491-520. Web.

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