Cellphones have become a major aspect of modern life. Children, teenagers, adults – nearly everyone has one of these high-tech gadgets in his or her pocket, bag or belt. Many phones are smartphones, giving you the entire Internet plus apps, music and games in your pocket. This can lead to massive distraction in your workforce if employees are left free to check their Facebook or Twitter every few minutes.
Whether people are working in a fast-food kitchen, a medical facility or an industrial atmosphere, using cellphones at work can be dangerous and interfere with productivity and customer service. As a manager, foreman or supervisor, it's important to install a cellphone use protocol that emphasizes safety, realistic expectations and clear-cut guidelines. Here are a few tips that can help you create a reliable cellphone policy.
Use data to make your point
Employees may be resistant to leave their cellphones in their bag, locker or car during the work day, but nobody wants to be injured at work. Business Fleet magazine advised businesses to make safety the cornerstone of their cellphone policy push. The commercial driving-focused magazine explained the companies with the fewest crashes per million miles were the ones that passed out monthly safety reports. This concept could be adopted and focused on a business-specific safety statistic.
Although distracted driving statistics may be useful in any business where employees drive to work, information about industrial accidents caused by distraction may be more effective for a manufacturer or production line, for example. Employers could post monthly or weekly reports comparing nationwide injury rates to their business. Statistics on injuries will never replace nonslip work shoes when it comes to reducing the number of falls, but it may help people realize that cellphones can actually present hazards.
In fast food, customer service could work the same way. However, in addition to safety information, consider making customer service reports. Employees who are less distracted by their phones may be more attentive to customers, quicker and more focused on preparing food. By tracking complaints, comments and compliments as statistics, employees will be able to see the actual difference.
Make specific rules and explain the guidelines
When you're developing a cellphone policy for your business, it's important to be thorough and exact with your restrictions. As Inc. magazine explained, too often the language of the policy is vague and that leads to questions and people not following the policy. Nancy Flynn, director of the Columbus, Ohio-based ePolicy Institute, talked to the magazine about how to avoid this ambiguity.
"It's not good enough to just say, 'Employees are allowed a limited amount of personal cellphone use,'" Flynn told the magazine. "'Use language that is not open to individual interpretation.'"
Inc. advised instead that you outline when it's OK to call or text and where this should be done. Explicitly tell employees that they're allowed to make calls on their lunch break or in their car, for example. Rules are easiest to follow and enforce when everyone understands them.
Use safety anecdotes to emphasize importance
Anecdotal evidence may also be useful. Despite safety data, people often think it can't happen to them, but by sharing news stories and true tales about events that happened to similar workers, it might make a stronger case. ERI Safety Videos pointed to a story where one woman who was with working a machine on the production line took out her cellphone to check an email. She fumbled with it in her hand, dropped it into the machine, tried to grab it and the machine crushed her hand.
Whether employees work with a bailer in the back of a supermarket or a specialized piece of manufacturing equipment, severe distracted work injury stories can be powerful deterrents.
Involve employees in the process
When you're creating the policy, allow some time for input from your employees, Business Fleet advised.
"Tell your employees that a cellphone policy is going to be issued. Hold open meetings, show examples from other companies and get feedback on appropriate penalties. Review distracted driving facts and show that top management is in support of a policy."
Although you may not follow all of the comments that employees bring up, when the policy is enacted they may be more open to it because they were involved in the process or at least understand why the policy was needed.
Keep it enforced
If supervisors, managers and foremen don't enforce the cellphone policy, employees won't follow it. Be fair but stern from the moment the policy is enacted. Inc. advised businesses to keep the policy up to date with the newest technology to avoid loopholes and explicitly state the punishments for violations. Employees should view, read and sign the policy to show they've understood it.
Cellphones are great tools and have drastically improved communication among people, but at work they present a danger and a distraction. Employers should craft cellphone policies that limit the interference and optimize safety in the workplace.
Brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear for more than 30 years.Share this article