How Tony Roma’s Encourages Workers to Use Smart Phones at Work

There is an epic war being fought along the front lines of every business in the world.

Business owners and managers across all industries are engaged in heavy conflict with employees who aren’t able to get through a shift without checking the screen on their smart phones, many of whom check it every couple of minutes.

To the manager, the almost ubiquitous smart phone has become a distraction that limits performance and interferes with customer service. To a young employee, being separated from their phone is like having an arm or leg amputated.

How Tony Roma’s employees use smart phones

Wanting to refocus the energy lost in fighting this ongoing battle, some innovative employers are discovering unique ways to leverage the power of these handheld supercomputers to their advantage. One such idea is to use smart phones in employee training, and the folks at Tony Roma’s have this down to a science.

slicer“The world is changing. People are changing. To be effective, our employee training is changing to meet them where they are,” says Jessie Bray, VP of Training and HR, Romacorp.

Look to the upper left in this photograph and you’ll notice a QR code next to this meat slicer.

Any Tony Roma’s employee who’s been asked to clean the slicer can easily get step-by-step instructions for how to accomplish this task (and, most importantly, why it needs to be done) by using any free QR scan app on their smart phone.

Instructions by phone

Simply by clicking this code with the app loaded, the employee is taken to this 1:22 instructional video on YouTube which they then view on their phone’s screen. In less than 2 minutes, the user learns how to disassemble, properly clean, and then reassemble this expensive machine.

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This is one of many instructional videos that are accessible by QR codes which are strategically positioned around a Tony Roma’s restaurant showing employees how to serve wine, prepare signature dishes, mix drinks, etc. Best of all, the cost for capturing, editing, and posting these instructional videos is nothing (or next-to-nothing) because the only real tool needed is, ironically, a smart phone. And when you consider that this remarkably effective training does not require a paid trainer, the smart phone is suddenly a whole lot smarter.

While this does not eliminate all the challenges that employers experience with the inappropriate use of smart phones in the workplace, it does redirect some of the negative effects towards mutually beneficial goals.

And that’s one giant leap for mankind, or at least for managers.

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s Reviving Work Ethic blog. His new book is Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce. For copies, visit

Eric Chester is a leading voice in the global dialogue on employee engagement, and building a world-class workplace culture. He's an in-the-trenches researcher on the topic of the millennial mindset, and the dynamics of attracting, managing, motivating and retaining top talent. Chester is a Hall-of-Fame keynote speaker and the author of 4 leadership books including his newly released Amazon #1 Bestseller On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in their People without Burning Them Out.  Learn more at and follow him at @eric_chester