Poor Mobile Manners Not Lost on Bosses


Answering a cellphone or shooting off a text message during a business lunch may do more than just give an employee a bad reputation — it could cost them a chance to move up the corporate ladder, new research suggests.

A study on mobile device etiquette by researchers at the USC Marshall School of Business and Howard University revealed that the quality of an employee's mobile manners, even during informal meetings, have important implications for hiring, career advancement and business efficiency.

"Hiring managers often cite courtesy as among the most important soft skills they notice," said Peter Cardon, an associate professor at USC and a co-author of the study. "By focusing on civility, young people entering the workforce may be able to set themselves apart."

While the majority of employees are on the same page when it comes to not using mobile devices during formal business meetings, feelings weren't as strong when it comes to informal meetings, such as lunch meetings.

The study discovered that men are nearly twice as likely as women to consider mobile phone use at a business lunch acceptable. Specifically, 59 percent of men, compared with just 34 percent of women, said it is OK to check text messages at a power lunch, while 50 percent also said it was acceptable to answer a call, compared with just 26 percent of women.

In addition, there is a large generational gap in what is perceived as acceptable mobile phone use while working. The research shows that younger professionals under the age of 30 were nearly three times as likely as their peers between the ages of 51 and 65 to think tapping out an email or text message over a lunch with co-workers or other associates is appropriate.

"Not surprisingly, millennials and younger professionals were more likely to be accepting of smartphone use, but they might be doing themselves a disservice," Cardon said. "In many situations, they rely on those older than them for their career advancement."

The study also found that chances are employees are offending someone by just having a mobile device out during a lunch meeting, with 20 percent of professionals seeing that as rude behavior.

The study, which was co-authored by Howard University's Melvin Washington and Ephraim Okoro, was based on surveys of 550 full-time working professionals. The research was recently published in the journal Business Communications Quarterly.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.