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The Single Tool That’s Stopping Apprentices From Getting Their Work Done

It will come as no surprise that the biggest productivity killer for your apprentice is the humble smartphone. Of all the tools on the job site, the smartphone is probably the most frequently used. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s definitely a tool that can be a source of distraction on the job.

According to Pew Research Center, mobile phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day—that works out to more than 3,200 texts per month.

3,200 texts per month… so what happens when you measure the impact that this has on productivity? If we assume a millennial spends one third of their day at work, they are receiving somewhere between 30-40 messages during a workday. This is a number to be distracted by.

If that’s not enough, a 2013 study at FSU found that probability of making an error increased by 28% after getting a phone call and 23% after getting a text. As any site manager can tell you, errors on the job or WHS issues are a continuing risk for every workplace and accidents are a costly business! Some common causes of accidents for workers on their phones are:

  • Productivity – simply put, if your apprentice is on the phone they are not working which costs you in lost productivity and also impacts on staff morale for those who are doing the right thing.
  • Equipment accidents – if your site has heavy equipment such as forklifts, bulldozers and cranes then the consequences can be much more serious. A distracted driver checking a text could potentially run into a building or people working onsite which is something that no business wants.
  • Car accidents – Regardless of whether an apprentice is driving fleet cars or the site car, in the event of an accident the costs to your liability insurance are the same.

Stopping it from the outset

With everything we know about how distracting phones can be, it’s tempting to simply call for a ban on phones entirely. While a hardline approach might work in some cases, it’s often impractical and there are a few more realistic ways to make apprentices more productive and less distracted.

  1. Have policies in place that restrict how and when phones are used and clearly explain them to new starters

Often a recent school leaver doesn’t know any other lifestyle but to be responsive to the “pings” of social media and text messages. It’s worth having a chat to your young apprentices about the notifications they’re getting via their phone. If notifications for certain apps (especially ones like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook) are switched off or silenced, the distraction can be removed from the outset.

  1. A hands-on approach to teaching

Give your apprentice a buddy or a mentor to help them succeed. If you can spare the time in the beginning to explain new tasks and run through your work expectations in detail with your apprentice, then you will not only reap the benefits of better quality work, but you will also stave off the need for them to seek assistance from a YouTube tutorial or Google.

  1. Embrace their love of technology for good

With the rise of the phone in every area of life there has also been the development of great apps that you can use to help with WHS, timekeeping, level measuring and even tax receipt reporting. Most apps these days are interactive and engaging making them a better tool for less interesting info such as site inductions or time sheeting and a great asset in the training process when used in the right way.

The times are changing and it’s inevitable that phones will be brought onto job sites, but there are ways to ensure appropriate use and make sure your apprentices stay on track with their training.

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