Can you remember the last time you went to a fast food restaurant and was greeted by an inattentive employee? You had finally gotten to the parking lot because the line to enter the restaurant was nearly a mile long. You asked yourself “What is in this chicken sandwich that makes me wait this long to order”? As you prepare to order, you notice the cashier sending a text message to one of her contacts. The first thought that comes to mind is that you wish the other chicken place was open but it’s Sunday and you have no other options. What happened to the days of good customer service and attentive employees?
These questions sparked a debate amongst several of my friends about whether cell phones are helping or hurting the productivity of employees and whether it influences the quality of services rendered. My recommendation was that employees should place their cell phones in a secure locker and not be allowed to use them while they are expected to perform the functions of their job. The employees could be allowed to check their phones on their breaks for missed calls or messages. I made this suggestion because my employer does not allow access to my phone while in the work area. My friends looked as if I had broken the guy code.
One friend stated, “What if the employee has a family emergency and his/her phone is in a locker”? I followed by asking whether the call could have come through the company phone like it did for decades prior to cell phones. I wonder how much more productive a staff could be if personal calls were eliminated and emergency calls were required to come through the company landline. It appears that smartphones have become distractions instead of serving as a tool for optional communication means. The average worker can send up to one hundred text messages per day and spend hours on their phone playing games and downloading music. In my opinion, this is stealing time. The employee is being compensated to complete assigned tasks but is spending hours each day playing on their phone. This is unfair to the employer.
An employer should establish a cell phone policy and hold the employees accountable when the policy is violated. Several companies restrict phones in the work area because of the possibility of data leakage as well as other privacy concerns. Some companies restrict the use of cell phones in customer areas and require that phones be used in designated areas only. Employers must also enforce the policy that they establish, or nothing will change. The customer must feel as if they are the priority and not the employees side conversations. Please share this post with your friends and have them post their feedback and ideas on how to reduce the negative effects of cell phones in the workplace.