The line between security surveillance and “Big Brother” is a fine line that can be easily blurred when it comes to monitoring what is going on within your business. Security surveillance is essential to the safety of your employees, customers, and facility. Yet, surveillance can become a question of privacy when you use your surveillance system to monitor your employees’ productivity, and workplace surveillance is even illegal in some instances.
Trust is an important aspect of any relationship, but especially between employers and employees because time, resources, sales, and ultimately, money is on the line. It’s understandable that business owners want to ensure that their employees are working efficiently, and video surveillance can be beneficial in the case of a conflict, safety hazard, or sexual assault. Nevertheless, using video surveillance to “watch over” your employees can breed a culture of mistrust.
Four steps to monitor your business while maintaining privacy and productivity:
You have the right to monitor your business, at the same time, your employees deserve a degree of privacy. If your employees feel like everything they do is being watched and scrutinized they may feel insecure in their actions, which can reduce their productivity. Empower your employees to feel both safe and respected at work to get the most out of your team by following these six steps to responsibly monitor your business.
Step 1: Set a security policy and share it openly with employees.
Every business should have a security plan that includes defined policies regarding employee privacy. Explain when, for what purpose, and how security surveillance will be used within the business, specifically if this includes monitoring employees. Then share these policies openly with your employees. Make sure they understand how the security surveillance policies affect their privacy and how the policies benefit their safety.
Step 2: Focus on process improvement, not employee improvement
If you do use your security surveillance system to monitor employees’ production, use it as a tool to improve business processes rather than critique employees. Beyond safety, your ultimate goal should be to increase productivity and maximize your employees’ talents. Focus on how you can make improvements within whole departments or facilities, then share what you learn with employees. This goes back to step one, be open. Additionally, ask employees to share their feedback as well, there might be productivity issues that the surveillance gives glimpses of but doesn’t tell the whole story.
Step 3: Reinforce an atmosphere of trust
The best ways to create trust within an organization are to foster open communication, give valuable feedback, and admit mistakes. Your employees look to you as the leader, but they may find it difficult to follow your direction (for the business and for their roles) if they don’t trust you. Invite your employees to share their concerns with you without the threat of being reprimanded or “ratted out” for sharing with you. It’s also important your employees trust each other. Negativity and distrust can quickly create a toxic workplace, so make sure you promote team building. You can even promote the benefit of surveillance as a tool for accountability between employees.
Step 4: And finally, limit its use
Respect employees’ privacy by only using surveillance where it’s necessary, such as a warehouse or production line where safety is essential. And only use the recorded data when absolutely necessary. Never use surveillance to display an employee’s actions that aren’t dangerous, illegal, or otherwise against company policy.
Ensuring the safety of your business is crucial to its operation, but the trust and respect of your employees is important too. Security surveillance can help you protect your business, nonetheless, you have to make sure you don’t overstep legal and personal boundaries.