We are definitely living in the digital age. For most industries, nearly every part of the work process is somehow tied to technology. This allows us to better plan, communicate, project results, and track data. 

But at what point does technology do more harm than good? 

Employee surveillance, for example, is a great moral-technical dilemma that many companies are currently grappling with. Before you make a decision as to whether advanced employee monitoring is right for your business, let’s take a look at both the pros and the cons.  

Pro: It can protect your employees and equipment 

Protection is arguably why you would want to install surveillance systems in the first place. You want to be sure that safety procedures are up to par, and that your investments—including equipment and staff—are kept secure. 

This can be particularly important with off-site projects. If a piece of equipment were to go missing, video surveillance could potentially prove that none of your staff are to blame, and can help you identify the perpetrator. When individuals know that they are being watched—not just your workers, but the general public—they are more likely to stay in line.  

Con: It can create a state of distrust and paranoia 

People don’t like to feel as though their every move is being scrutinized. When employees are aware of this, it creates an atmosphere where mutual trust and respect can quickly deteriorate. Best case scenario, individuals may feel as though they are being treated like children; worst case scenario, they may feel as though they are being treated like criminals. 

Many companies that have installed surveillance systems have had employees leave as a result. It’s one thing to have a system in place so you can ensure the safety of your staff and equipment, but if you start calling out individuals on every minor infraction—such as taking too many bathroom breaks—then chances are they won’t be around for long. 

Pro: It can alert you of a potential problem 

If someone is starting to slack off or having personal issues, surveillance systems can be a good first line of defense and can save you from more extreme problems down the line. 

This can also include potential safety issues, such as how equipment is handled or stored. Another important safety measure that you’ll be able to keep an eye on is employees’ interactions with one another. In this way, there’s a chance you’ll be able to determine if there is an interpersonal conflict before it gets out of hand.  

Con: It can actually do more harm than good 

If your workers are worried about you watching their every move, there’s a good chance that they may actually spend more time trying to evade surveillance, which can actually decrease productivity. Much of this will depend on how you communicate with your staff: Why are these systems being put in place? How will it affect their daily activities? What type of feedback can they expect to receive? 

So, What’s the Bottom Line? 

If you are considering putting in employee surveillance systems, you need to be honest about your rationale. Is it because you don’t really trust your staff or because you are looking for ways and insight that can help improve your effectivity? The answer to this question should be very instructive when it comes to what’s right for you. 


Photo by Rainer Bleek on Unsplash