Do you encourage ”phubbing” in your workplace? Or perhaps you’re guilty of it yourself without even realising.
Phubbing is a new term that is short for phone-snubbing, i.e. looking at your phone instead of making conversation or eye contact.
The phenomenon is not new. How many teenagers have you seen staring blankly at their screens instead of engaging with their parents? Or how many times have you witnessed a couple engrossed in their phones instead of talking to each other over dinner?
However, the worrying trend is now beginning to make its way into the workplace.
The behaviour has become so common that two Baylor University professors have published a study called, “Put Down Your Phone and Listen to Me: How Boss Phubbing Undermines the Psychological Conditions Necessary for Employee Engagement.”
James A. Roberts and Meredith E. David found that checking one’s phone had a negative effect on productivity.
The study also concluded that phubbing is detrimental to workplace relationships because people can not be fully present if they are distracted by their smartphones.
In fact, 76% of employees surveyed expressed a lack of trust in a supervisor who phubbed them.
So, how do we overcome these difficulties in a technology-driven, always-on workplace? The study gave three main recommendations.
Change the culture
The Baylor professors encouraged companies to create a culture where employees do not feel pressure to immediately respond to emails and messages from their superiors, especially when they are meeting with other employees.
Encourage supervisors to undertake training on the importance of face-to-face interactions. They should also be educated on the negative effects of phubbing on employee engagement.
Draw the boundaries
In order to change this trend clear and strict policies need to be put in place in relation to smartphone use and security.