Editor’s note: John Griffiths is Editor Clinton Griffiths’ father.
Lead by example and remove distractions for employees
Hey, put the phone down! The age of handheld communications has one massive drawback: productivity, or a lack there of.
At his ranch near Tucumcari, N.M., John Griffiths often hires young adults from the local community college to help with seasonal work. Many have ag backgrounds and are handy with a post-hole driver or a cutting torch—until they feel the buzz.
“I’ve literally watched young people send hundreds of text messages a day while I’m paying them to be on the job,” Griffiths says. “These guys are holding a sorting stick in one hand and texting in the other.”
He’s seen older workers do similarly.
U.S. workplaces need to have a conversation about phone etiquette in the most serious way, says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert who works with many big companies.
“Cellphones have become very personal parts of our lives,” Swann says. “Just because people are constantly accessible and information is at our fingertips, it doesn’t override an employer’s right to make sure a job is done.”
It’s true many young folks are hooked on technology, says Jeff Miller, who teaches professional development to ag communication students at the University of Arkansas.
He urges his students to be mindful of differing perceptions of phone use.
“What’s totally acceptable to a 22-year-old in terms of multi-tasking with a cellphone may be considered absolutely rude by a 55 year-old,” Miller points out.
He advises phones be kept out of sight unless needed for work. Managers should lead by example by doing
Establish Device Rules
1. Write clear policies. Communicate clearly in writing, verbally or visually, says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert. Decide if or where technology-free zones should be established. Use color codes to establish where it’s safe to use phones, where caution should be exercised and where phones are not permitted.
2. Make sure the policy fits your culture. Answer questions such as: Are phones used at work? How are they used? Is the policy closely monitored or does it operate on the honor system?
3. Set a time for employees to use cellphones. This provides them with time to handle personal situations or browse the Internet on breaks.