The look of distress on my 26-year-old friend's face said something was terribly wrong. And it was: “My cellphone is broken,” he said. “I've lost all my numbers.” To a Gen Y like me, losing your cellphone is worse than being forced to download music through a dial-up connection. I know, because I once lost my cellphone while traveling and couldn't call my mom or my wife for two days. I didn't know their numbers — they were speed dial No. 1 and speed dial No. 2.
Cellphone co-dependence — and reliance on technology in general — seems to be both a strength and weakness for Gen Y. On one hand, cellphones give us real-time access to our friends, family, and employers, and, of course, to all-important sports updates. We also rely on our phones to keep track of critical e-mails, birthdays, appointments, passwords, ideas, pictures, and much more. On the other hand, we take our cellphones everywhere. It's not unusual to see a Gen Y talking, texting, or surfing the Web in places they shouldn't — business meetings, weddings, funerals, and even bathrooms.
Here's a simple list of cellphone Do's and Don'ts for Gen Ys in the work force. Feel free to post this list in your company's break room or e-mail the list to your Gen Y employees, so they can read it… on their cellphones.
Gen Y Cellphone Do's and Don'ts
Back up your cellphone weekly. This regular back up will save you the embarrassment of losing your mom's phone number.
Get insurance on your cellphone. Insurance is pretty cheap and can save you a bundle given the high cost of cellphone replacement.
Set your cellphone to automatically spell check all outgoing e-mails and text messages. This is especially important if you're corresponding with your boss. And for bosses: You know you've received a text message from someone not in Gen Y when they spell out all the words.
Talk, text, or surf the Web during business meetings. It's rude, unprofessional, and people notice — even when you're typing on your cellphone under the table. Instead, turn off your phone before meetings and opt for the much cooler effect of turning on your phone after a meeting and hearing 12 “bings” as your messages appear.
Record a voice mail greeting with Metallica, 50 Cent, or your crazy best friend blaring in the background. It makes you sound like a rebellious pre-teen. This is particularly important if you're over 24 and still living at home.
Talk on your cellphone when using your company bathroom. One of my corporate clients told me that he recently overheard a Gen Y new hire talking on his cellphone in a restroom stall — and the phone was set to speaker!
Jason Ryan Dorsey is The Gen Y Guy™. His keynotes and seminars teach business leaders how to build Gen Y employee loyalty and performance while bridging all four generations in the workplace. Jason has appeared on “60 Minutes,” “20/20,” “The Today Show,” and “The View.” His new book is entitled My Reality Check Bounced!