6 Tips to Get Employees Off Their Phones

No matter where you go, it seems like people are constantly staring at their phone screens these days.

At the office. At dinner. During meetings. While walking down the street. On dates. In bed. (You’re probably only half-paying attention to this article right now as you attempt to multi-task between priorities and the alluring draw of your phone.)

Maybe it’s the new normal but the need to obsessively check your phone for social media updates, emails and text messages seems a bit out of control. Think about yourself for a second – what’s your first response when you hear your smartphone “ring”, “ding” or “vibrate”? Be honest. If you are like most people, your first reaction is to check your phone as quickly as you possibly can – no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Okay, so maybe I am overstating this issue a bit.  But think about this for a second. Recent research suggests that close to 40% of the US population is fearful and anxious to be without their phones for any amount of time. And consider that even the average user touches their smartphone approximately 2,600 times a day. Ask yourself – how much time do you spend a day on your phone? Where is your phone right now? Where is your phone when you go to sleep at night? (Probably right next to you if you are like most people.)

Time spent on your phone can have an impact on your focus and engagement, in both your personal and professional life. So how do you know if you are you are too connected to your phone? Consider whether you ever experienced the following symptoms:

  • Do you feel anxious when you do not have your phone in your possession or your phone’s battery is about to die?
  • Do you constantly check your phone for new texts, emails, social media updates and newsfeeds, no matter where you are at or what you are doing?
  • Do you ever experience phantom phone notification syndrome – thinking your phone is “ringing” or “beeping” when it really isn’t?
  • Do you not hear what people are saying to you or even realize that people are talking to you sometimes because you are looking at your phone?

If any of these symptoms describe you, don’t feel bad. But you should consider doing something about it. Here are some simple things to think about that can help:

  • Put the phone away. Really. Try it. Try 10 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Next time you go out for dinner, leave it in the car. Build your capacity slowly but surely. You might be surprised how this enhances your enjoyment of other things.
  • Stop checking your phone before you go to bed or first thing when you wake up in the morning. Break up your connection and dependency with your phone. It may be weird at first but you quality of sleep will improve. (If you’re thinking “wait, my phone is my alarm clock”, then buy an alarm clock and leave the phone in the other room)
  • Get an App. There are lots of Apps on the market now to help people keep track of their phone time and remind them when they are spending too much time on their phone. Look them up on your App Store
  • Smartphone use during work time. If you are a manager and concerned that your staff is always on their phone during team meetings, consider a phone ban for meetings or encourage team members to minimize their phone time in order to be more focused.
  • Proactively use your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for assistance with issues like this that can have a negative impact on your life. Encourage your employees to do the same if you think their smartphone obsession is impacting their productivity. EAPs are set up to address and resolve these type of employee issues so you, as the employer, don’t have to. EAPs provide 24/7 hotline support and short-term counseling options.
  • Don’t have an EAP? Consider setting one up. The investment may be as low as a few hundred dollars a month and you’ll be providing your employees with the support they need while protecting your bottom line.

Like I always tell my teenage son, there’s a big world out there. So get off your phone and enjoy it.

Miami Payroll Center partners with CCA, Inc, a national EAP provider that has administered these programs for over 30 years. If you have questions about this article or want more information about how to set up an EAP at your company, call us to et up an informational call or meeting.

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