Surveillance in the workplace, in various forms, has increased dramatically in the last decade. Using surveillance to document and record the daily activities of your company, while a good idea, can have a negative effect on employee morale and satisfaction.
Today, many companies use some form of surveillance. Common workplace surveillance can include telephone monitoring, video surveillance, and Internet surveillance. In an effort to curb theft, improve employee productivity, and increase employee safety, many companies are also inadvertently allowing a number of negative effects at the door.
False sense of security
The use of video surveillance can induce a false sense of security. Businesses should not rely on electronic monitoring systems, rather than human supervision. Workplace surveillance can be used very effectively to enhance existing security, but it should not replace it.
Nobody likes the idea of their every move being controlled. Surveillance in the workplace can give employees the impression that their superiors are constantly monitoring and evaluating them. Regardless of the type of surveillance, be it by video, email, or phone, workplace surveillance can create tension and resentment between employees and their employers.
Invasion of privacy
Surveillance in the workplace can get complicated when it comes to privacy issues. Make sure that if you are installing any type of commercial location monitoring that you are fully aware of the laws and regulations of your particular location. In both Canada and the United States, everyone is entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy. There are simply some places where the camera or other monitoring devices are not allowed. For example, everyone has the right to expect privacy in a bathroom or locker room. There are strict, location-specific laws regarding recording a conversation. Make sure you know the laws that govern your area.
With the more frequent use of employee supervision, the possibility of discriminatory dismissal arises. There have been more than several popular cases that were brought against employers by employees who were fired for reasons they deemed unjustified, but an invasion of their personal privacy. Some of these cases are known to include firing for emailing jokes from a work computer and distributing union emails in times of dispute.
Nobody likes to feel like their every move is being monitored. It is important to weigh the positive and negative effects of workplace surveillance.