Some may argue that video surveillance in the workplace can be an invasion of privacy. However, as long as employee privacy is respected and existing surveillance laws are abided by, it can actually benefit both the employer and employees. Aside from decreasing misconduct and increasing safety, workplace surveillance has its advantages.
Employee theft, also known as “shrinkage,” is a growing problem for businesses. It is a bigger threat than identity theft and cyber fraud according to the FBI. In addition, fraud by employees is still a major issue, mainly for businesses in the financial and retail sector.
Video surveillance systems work to combat these issues, providing a way to keep a watchful eye over employees while producing video evidence when necessary.
Businesses thrive on success and profits, therefore, anything that can increase productivity and improve operations is good thing. Installing security cameras in the workplace influences employees to stay on task, thus, plays a role in productivity and efficiency.
Security cameras not only safeguard the business, but work to keep employees safe and protected. An effective surveillance system will help deter intruders and provide video evidence should a break-in or other incident occur. Security cameras can also monitor the different visitors your business has throughout the day.
Workplace safety is expected and non-negotiable. All employees should feel safe in the workplace and security cameras can enhance that feeling. When safety measures are blatantly disregarded, management can review these instances and deal with them accordingly to prevent any unnecessary accidents in the future.
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When it comes to surveillance and privacy, individual views can vary drastically. While some may see surveillance as a violation of privacy, others may see it as a necessity in terms of safety. Then there are individuals who fall somewhere in between on the spectrum, basing their views on circumstance and perceived benefit.
According a recent Pew Research Center study, which surveyed 461 adult participants, plus nine online focus groups of 80 participants, it seems that most Americans would sacrifice their privacy in certain situations based on whether the outcome would be advantageous to them.
The participants were given proposed scenarios where some sort of surveillance or privacy was pushed for a supposed benefit. For example, one scenario posed was that of workplace surveillance. After a string of workplace thefts, the business was to install security cameras with facial recognition technology to identify the thieves, as well as use footage to measure employee attendance and performance. A majority of the participants found this acceptable (54%), some disagreed (24%), and others said ‘it depends’ (21%).
Another scenario was related to loyalty cards for retail stores. These cards would track purchases for special discounts. Almost half of the participants found it acceptable (47%) while almost a third found it unacceptable (32%). When it came to a “smart thermostat” that would monitor movements within the home, most participants found it unacceptable (55%) than acceptable (27%).
As you can tell, the less personal the surveillance, the more acceptable it seems to be perceived. However, most are still wary about disclosing personal information, and even more concerned about what happens to their information thereafter. The threat of spam, targeted ads, and the potential for data breaches, as we have seen lately, makes most hesitant to let their guard down.
All in all, the consensus when it comes to surveillance and privacy matters is “it depends.” Based on an individual’s trust of the company or business and his/her perception of risk and benefit, the person will decide whether or not it’s worth it. This type of conditional acceptance shows that it can be hard to predict whether certain surveillance measures will be tolerated.
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