Memo to those reading this article on their smartphones while at work: You’re part of a growing problem.
A survey of 2,186 hiring managers and 3,031 full-time workers released today by CareerBuilder showed how these wonders of modern technology were becoming a nuisance for many businesses.
A majority — 55 percent — of employers considered smartphones to be the biggest killers of workplace productivity. That’s hardly surprising given that more than eight in 10 workers (83 percent) own the devices and 82 percent keep them within eye contact while at work.
Interestingly, only 10 percent of smartphone owners say the devices hurt their job performance, even though 66 percent admit to using them several times a day.
“While we need to be connected to devices for work, we’re also a click away from alluring distractions from our personal lives like social media and various other apps,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, in a press release. “The connectivity conundrum isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be managed.”
Not surprisingly, the biggest distracting use of the devices is for personal messages (55 percent), followed by weather (51 percent), news (44 percent) and games (24 percent).
The consequences of smartphone-related slacking off, though, are no joke. Nearly half of employers said they diminish the quality of work. Another 38 percent found that their overuse lowered morale because employees were forced to do work that others failed to complete.
Twenty-eight percent said smartphones had an adverse impact on the boss-employee relationship. Another 27 percent noted that deadlines were missed, 26 percent said their business lost revenue and 20 percent reported that client relationships were harmed.
Companies are trying to counter the allure of personal devices during the workday with several strategies including blocking certain Internet sites (32 percent), banning personal calls or cell phone use (26 percent) and monitoring Web usage (19 percent).
Though employees wasted time at the office long before the Internet-connected phones, they can now be driven to distraction more efficiently than ever. In the end, though, managers have to strike a balance between business needs and employees’ morale. According to Haefner, honesty is the best way to address these issues.
“Have an open dialogue with employees about tech distractions,” she said. “Acknowledge their existence and discuss challenges and solutions to keeping productivity up.”