Surveillance cameras in the workplace can be a lightning rod for heated discussions about privacy and legality, but it’s possible to use them well, and in ways that allay employees’ concerns. Today, let’s explore five of the pros of workplace cameras. You might be surprised who benefits!
- Cameras are increasingly accepted
Recent Pew research found that a majority of employees surveyed consider workplace surveillance for the purpose of theft prevention acceptable, even if that footage can also be used for other purposes, such as tracking attendance. This is a significant shift from prior surveys, and may in part be due to phenomena such as social media, which have created a culture in which it’s accepted that your actions can follow you for a long time. Employees do draw a line between sensible precautions and a culture of constant surveillance, equating it with trust issues. But overall, they’re not surprised by cameras.
- Cameras are a theft deterrent
While we often think of cameras as a means through which to document theft, the simple fact that cameras exist is a powerful deterrent.
- They reduce harassment
Another thing employees are less likely to do on camera? Harass other employees. Even if bad behavior is difficult to read on camera, you may find that you’ve got plenty of footage that dovetails with the narrative of an employee who has filed a complaint, which can help you get to the heart of the matter. Video can also reduce false complaints.
- They safeguard employees from outside hazards.
If your organization has public space, however small, you can offer your employees additional security through the presence of video cameras. This is equally true of outdoor areas such as parking lots or employee seating.
- They drive management innovation
So far, we’ve mostly talked about preventing malfeasance. But cameras can also help you detect patterns that help you create a more effective organizational culture. For example, the New York Times recently pointed out something interesting. Some companies monitoring employee productivity discovered, to their surprise, that employees who had more frequent social interactions during the day were actually more productive. This insight allowed companies to strategically provide those opportunities, either through restructuring the workspace or allotting time to interact. How could watching for patterns, instead of monitoring individual employees, drive innovation in your organization?
Remember that “policy” part?
We’ve talked about how cameras can benefit your company, but remember, we said we’d tell you why cameras should be part of your HR policy. Obviously, when it comes to cameras employees continue to raise privacy concerns, which we’ll discuss further in a future blog. The main way to allay employees’ worries is by providing as much transparency as possible—including a written policy about camera use in your building.
By ensuring that employees know when they will (and won’t) be recorded, for what purposes the tapes will be used, and so on, you can balance your need for oversight with a willingness to foster the trust relationship so many employees want.