Baylor Experts Share New "Phone Snubbing" Research. This time it's "Boss Phubbing!"

Baylor Experts Share New "Phone Snubbing" Research. This time it's "Boss Phubbing!"

December 14, 20172 min read

Baylor University marketing professors and smartphone use experts James A. Roberts, Ph.D., and Meredith David, Ph.D., published their latest study – “Put Down Your Phone and Listen to Me: How Boss Phubbing Undermines the Psychological Conditions Necessary for Employee Engagement” – in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Roberts and David are known nationally and internationally for researching the affects of smartphone use on relationships.

“Phubbing (phone snubbing) is a harmful behavior,” Roberts said. “It undermines any corporate culture based on respect for others. Thus, it is crucial that corporations create a culture embodied by care for one another.”

Their newest study examines “boss phubbing” (boss phone snubbing), which the researchers define as “an employee’s perception that his or her supervisor is distracted by his or her smartphone when they are talking or in close proximity to each other” and how that activity affects the supervisor-employee relationship.

“Our research reveals how a behavior as simple as using a cellphone in the workplace can ultimately undermine an employee’s success,” the researchers wrote. “We present evidence that boss phubbing lowers employees’ trust in their supervisors and ultimately leads to lower employee engagement.”

The study found:

* 76 percent of those surveyed showed a lack of trust in a supervisor who phubbed them

* 75 percent showed decreases in psychological meaningfulness, psychological availability and psychological safety

* The lack of trust and decreases in those key areas led to a 5 percent decrease in employee engagement

Roberts and David suggest several steps that managers could take to change the culture and mitigate the negative effects of smartphone use.

* Create a culture in which supervisors do not feel pressure to immediately respond to emails and messages from their superiors while meeting with their employees.

* Structure performance criteria in a manner which motivates bosses to build healthy superior-subordinate relationships. This might include annual ratings by their subordinates.

* Train supervisors and employees on the importance of face-to-face interactions and sensitize them to the potentially negative consequences of phubbing on employee attitudes and engagement.

* Set formal smartphone policies by setting clear rules for smartphone use, access and security – and detail specific consequences for violating those rules.


Connect with:
  • Meredith David, Ph.D.
    Meredith David, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Marketing

    Dr. David focuses on marketing strategies with an exploration of new technologies.

  • James Roberts, Ph.D.
    James Roberts, Ph.D. Director, Centre for Nonprofit Leadership and Service, Professor - Marketing

    Expert on consumer behavior, human-computer interaction, compulsive buying, and effects of consumerism & technology on individual happiness.

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