Have you ever been in a meeting where your boss turns their attention from you to their phone? This “phubbing” (short for “phone snubbing”) can have a detrimental effect on morale—and on performance as well. The Washington Post reports that researchers James Roberts and Meredith David, professors of Marketing at Baylor University, have found that this behavior undermines trust and engagement in the workplace.
In their study titled “Put Down Your Phone and Listen to Me: How boss phubbing undermines the psychological conditions necessary for employee engagement,” Roberts and Meredith found that “behavior as simple as using a cell phone in the workplace can ultimately undermine an employee’s success.” Boss phubbing can have a serious negative impact on employee trust as well as employee perception that their work is meaningful, and that they are in a safe working environment. All of this can lead to decreased employee engagement and productivity.
Distracted bosses are nothing new, but ubiquitous smartphones have exacerbated the problem (Tweet it!). Roberts recommends that bosses and employees be trained to recognize the negative impact of phubbing. He suggests that supervisors be evaluated not just on quantitative measures like sales numbers, but also on whether employees trust and respect them. Organizations might also consider setting formal “smartphone policies” on when and where phones can be used.
Have you ever been “phubbed” by your boss or colleague? How did you respond, externally and internally? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion