Social Media Can Affect Employee Engagement and Culture

Property & Casualty, Risk, Senior Living & Social Services, War For Talent

Social Media – A Unique Risk for Senior Living and Social Services Employers

Everyone has an opinion – but could your employees’ use of social media harm your organization’s culture, affect employee engagement, or even drive litigation?

Under the National Labor Relations Act, most non-management employees have the right to engage in concerted activity (i.e. discussing wages, benefits & working conditions). However, we have seen evidence of negative social media use causing problems in the senior living and social services industry, even driving litigation and higher settlements for providers.

The current social and political environment provides employers with an opportunity to review and refresh their employee handbooks and provide guidance to employees in order to avoid negative impact to the organization. (This is also a good chance to remind your employees of cybersecurity precautions!) In a highly regulated industry such as senior living, providers must have expectations in writing in order to take action if something goes awry.

The following considerations and tips can be shared with employees to encourage professional best practices on social media.

  • Tone and Topic: Certain topics are prime for scrutiny and attention, but tone is important. A best practice is to avoid content that could be viewed as obscene, threatening, derogatory, harassing or bullying by others. Even on certain topics, responses can become argumentative and may trigger someone to react in a manner that seems excessive. Is the topic worth engaging in?
  • Residents and Clients: Remember that clients likely have diverse opinions about the world. Could your post unintentionally cause friction with a client?
  • HIPAA: Never share incorrect, confidential or non-public content about the organization or your residents and clients on social media. We have seen cases for HIPAA violations where an employee has taken photos of residents and posted them to their social media networks. It’s important to remember that HIPAA still applies outside of the workplace. For example, if an employee posts about his or her workday and includes a photo of a resident (or tags a resident in the update) the post violates HIPAA.
  • Brand: What you post is ultimately a reflection of not only your personal brand, but the brand of the organization.

Employees also have a number of options to hone who has access to their posts. Share the following suggestions with employees to make them aware of actions they can take to limit access to their social media posts:

  • Privacy settings: All social media platforms have the option of altering your privacy settings so that the general public can’t see your posts.
  • Review your history: Most social media platforms provide you with the ability to review your post history. If you are concerned about any posts that you may have created in the past, this can be a quick way to identify and delete old posts.
  • Check your networks: Take a moment to review your friends, followers and any groups you be a part of on social media. This should be a reminder of who sees what you have to share.

As an employer, there are some initiatives that you can put into place in your organization in order to alleviate employees’ need to take to social media in a negative fashion. Creating inclusion & diversity committees or thought sharing groups can allow you to address issues in-person instead of on an external platform, and facilitating small group discussions with designated leaders can bring potential issues to light in a safe space before they are posted on social media and become a larger, organization-wide concern.


Social media use by your organization’s’ leadership and employees could negatively affect your culture and potentially lead to litigation. Reach out to your M3 senior living and social services account executive to learn more about crafting policies and providing guidance to employees on social media use.

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