Bosses who are distracted by smartphones could be killing their workers’ engagement and enthusiasm on the job.
Being too connected at work sends employees the wrong message.
A new survey of 413 workers conducted by researchers at Baylor University finds that bosses who are distracted by their smartphones while interacting with their employees could be turning workers off. Indeed, these smartphone-addled bosses “risk losing their employees’ trust and, ultimately, their engagement,” a summary of the report reads.
More than three in four (76%) of workers who thought their boss snubbed them for a smartphone said they had less trust in their supervisor, and 75% found their work to be less psychologically meaningful, among other factors.
Taken together, this led to a 5% decrease in employee engagement — a big problem for bosses, as employees who are less engaged may mess with the company’s bottom line. In fact, research carried out by Gallup in 2013 found that engaged workplace teams were 22% more profitable than those that were disengaged, and experienced lower staffing turnover. Other analyses show that employees who aren’t engaged are more likely to call in sick.
Bottom line: “When we see our boss as unavailable, that really undermines our perception that we can get our job done,” James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University who conducted the research, told Moneyish. Workers who get snubbed for the smartphone feel undervalued and underappreciated, which, in turn, causes them to feel detached from work, disengaged, and disheartened as to the importance of their contributions. And that hurts the bottom line.
Even worse, smartphone-addicted bosses are increasingly common, Roberts told Moneyish. So how can frazzled managers who are used to doing a thousand different things while speaking to their employees rectify these managerial mistakes?
First, follow this rule: “When someone comes into the office, that should be time for undivided attention — [it’s] a matter of silencing your technology,” he added. And here are a few other things companies and bosses can do to ensure the smartphone isn’t getting in the way of the employee-boss relationship.
- Have employees give their supervisors anonymous feedback and reviews of performance. This gives workers a chance to vocalize their frustrations if they feel their a boss routinely ignores or dismiss them.
- Create an environment where employees at all levels don’t feel forced to immediately answer emails and messages in most cases.
- Organize training on why face-to-face meetings matter, and to teach workers about the negative consequences of phone snubbing.
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