The Perils of "Phubbing"
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.
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2/20/2018 09:20:08 am
This has happened to me recently. Each time I met with my supervisor, he would take a personal phone call from his adult children during our meeting time. This happened three times, three weeks in a row. These were not emergencies, just routine phone calls.
2/20/2018 10:47:16 am
It is so difficult to address this behavior - especially when it is your supervisor!
2/20/2018 09:54:39 pm
Absolutely Maria. Fear is that such feedback could be a career limiting move.
2/20/2018 09:53:00 pm
Amy: Your action says it all. I wonder if your supervisor has any idea about the relationship between your departure and his phubbing!
2/20/2018 11:39:43 am
I find this whole area interesting that we need to write papers, and train for it and even create a name for what is below the line behaviour. It is simply rude and unacceptable antisocial behaviour unless prefixed by "I'm expecting a mission critical phone call shortly do you mind if I leave my phone on" or "could we postpone our meeting"
2/20/2018 09:58:04 pm
Agree Peter: By making ground rules explicit (And you've shared good ones) we can more likely have this important conversation.
2/20/2018 02:27:45 pm
That sounds like a good practice for anyone.
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