Is Cell Phone Abuse Creeping into Your Workplace?

Cell Phone Abuse at WorkCell phones and smart phones are here to stay and we love them!
The convenience of making or receiving a call at any time, any place (well, almost), far outweighs the negatives about cell phones and smart phones.
So how can a cell phone possibly be troublesome in the workplace? What exactly is the growing concern?
Perhaps this inexcusable scenario may sound familiar to you:

A senior executive walks into a staff meeting unexpectedly.  She wants to use this time while everyone is gathered around, to express sincere appreciation for the hard work and team effort accomplished in the department.  Definitely a welcome interruption!

About 5 minutes into praising everyone, her cell phone rings or sings.  She actually stops what she is saying and takes a moment to look at the display, sets the phone back down and says, “OK let’s see, where was I?”  This ritual is then repeated a few more times.  Her short presentation now turns into 20 minutes.  Sadly, this executive’s action spoke much louder than any praise she attempted to give.

The employees start rolling their eyes and start whispering to each other about their displeasure.  No doubt they are experiencing frustration and stunned disbelief that this executive could behave so rudely.  Respect?  It sure didn’t happen in this meeting.  In fact, her efforts were deflated because she clearly sent a strong message to her employees that none of them were as important as her cell phone calls.  With good reason, employees start  to say to each other, “why did she even bother?”

The University of Michigan did a survey to over 750 adults and found that 6 in 10 cell phone users say that using a cell phone in public can be “a major irritation.” Not only is it irritating, it can be down right rude and inconsiderate in the workplace.

Let’s Get Bold Here

Employees are paid to work, not take personal calls.  The busier an employee is, the less likely he/she will take time to make or receive personal calls.

On the flip side, employees with time on their hands will fill that gap with personal calls.

Statistics show that 50% of businesses experience annoyance or irritation among employees because there are no guidelines in place.

Do some of these situations sound familiar?

  • Phones ringing at an unoccupied desk Do you feel like answering it and saying “nobody is home!”
  • Annoying ring tones not everyone likes to hear the cutesy recordings from your children.
  • Employees who take a call in the middle of a meeting – Disruptive and disrespectful.
  • A meeting presenter that interrupts his/her speech to take a callHmmm, sound familiar?
  • Non-emergency personal calls that everyone overhears like, “what’s for dinner, honey?” This is really annoying especially if co-workers are doing their work and yours too! This also leads to animosity among co-workers.
  • An employee who puts a customer on hold to answer a personal call from their cell phone. Don’t even get us going on this one!

If cell phone use and abuse are occurring in your place of business, it is time to implement some etiquette guidelines.   If you are not in a position to implement rules or guidelines, you may want to check with your HR department or your supervisor and get something in the works.
Here is a starting point:

  • Limit personal cell phone use to lunch and breaks.
  • Do not allow ring tones of any kind.
  • Company issued cell phones are the property of the company.  This means the company can prohibit personable use.
  • Personal cell phones should be turned off during work hours.  Check messages on your break or lunch hour.
  • If you work in an area that does not have a company land line, personal cell phones should be permissible for emergencies only.

All of us have many stories about cell phone abuse.  How irritating is it to be in a store and the sales clerk assisting you is simultaneously talking on the phone with her sister about a new cheesecake recipe?  Makes you feel pretty insignificant, doesn’t it.  You start to question whether or not they really want your business.  Certainly not a good way to build customer loyalty!
First and foremost, always think about the impact your actions have on your customers when you do not give them your full attention.   They deserve it.
In the meantime, common courtesy is the best.

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