HR Expert: Mobile Phone Use
After speaking to a client, they’re struggling with a member of staff who’s always on their phone at work even though they’ve been told not to use phones during working hours. How do they stop this continuing?

The use of mobile phones in the workplace is a concern for many employers. It is important to tackle this issue when it arises as continued usage will have a detrimental impact on productivity and increase the risk of confidential data breaches. Taking a proactive and visible approach will help discourage other staff members from using their mobile phones in the future.

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It is important that your client implements a suitable mobile phone policy setting out their stance on the matter. Having the rules outlined in a policy will allow your client to begin a disciplinary procedure, should one be considered necessary. The policy should be clear and specific, taking into account personal phone calls, text messages and social media usage. Due to advancements in technology, it would be useful to include devices such as tablets and smartwatches, and if your client has an old policy they can update this accordingly. Your client should also specify in the policy where staff are required to keep their phones during working hours, such as out of sight or in a locked drawer.

Once a policy is in place it is important to address any incidents of unacceptable mobile phone usage. Your client should address the next individual caught using their mobile phone, asking them to refrain from doing so immediately. An informal meeting may be all that is needed with the individual to warn them of their misconduct and give them an opportunity to change their behaviour. If the individual has already been afforded this opportunity then your client may wish to begin a formal disciplinary procedure on the matter, beginning with formal warnings that increase in seriousness should the misconduct continue.

Whilst taking a proactive approach to mobile phone usage will deter other staff members from following suit, your client is advised to educate their workforce further on the matter. They could put up posters which discourage staff from using mobile phones or place notices on staff notice boards. For a less subtle approach, your client may opt to hold a meeting with the entire workforce, issuing them with a copy of the policy on mobile phone usage and reminding them of their responsibility to adhere to the policy.

To succeed in tackling mobile phone usage, your client should be proactive and look to discipline and educate their workforce in equal measure. At the same time, it is equally important that managers lead by example and abide by the rules of the policy, which will create a more unified and cooperative workforce.

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