A recent CareerBuilder article listed cell phones as the number one productivity killer in the workplace. Is this the case, and are cell phones really the source of the issue? I would argue that cell phone use is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that the real challenge for employers is how they are engaging the hearts and minds of their employees.
When employees are disenchanted or not in tune with the needs or demands of the company, they are easily distracted, and cell phones are easy to turn to as most of us are addicted to them in the first place. Below is a list of tips employers can use to prevent cell phones from killing workplace productivity.
- Set productivity standards – Be clear and honest with your employees about the benchmarks you want to hit, and what you want to collectively achieve as a company. If employees are all working together to reach a shared goal, they will be less apt to waste time and fall victim to distractions.
- Communicate cell phone use expectations – Sit down and talk with your employees about what is appropriate cell phone use. Completely restricting cell phone use is unrealistic, and will generate some resentment, but make sure you and your employees are on the same page about what respectful cell phone use entails.
- Understand that cell phone use is a two-way street – Yes, employees may be using their phones at work to stay plugged in to friends and family while at work, but a growing number of people are using their cell phones for work purposes, and some companies give their employees use of company cell phones. If this is the case in your organization, understand the employees’ cell phone use, and know that even when they are off the clock, they are tuned into work.
- Make use of the best form of employer/employee communication – When you look at what gets in the way of productivity, it isn’t just the cell phone use. It is the intelligent use, or conversely the lack of intelligent use, of your workforce. You already have two effective tools that help with communication effectiveness: mouth and ears. If you talk to people respectfully and then listen twice as much as you talk, you are going to find employees stepping up to higher levels of productivity.