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CCTV and Your Employees: What To Tell Them If You Install It

It’s far from unusual these days for companies to install CCTV systems both inside and outside their premises. Thanks to huge advances in CCTV technology over the last decade or so, doing so has become both easier and more affordable. But there is one aspect of making such a move that often causes employers great concern as they consider doing so; what their employees will think.

Why Employees Balk at Video Surveillance

CCTV is becoming a part of everyday life. You expect that when you go to the gas station, the supermarket and even when you use an ATM you are being videotaped. In communities around the country city and town officials are following the European lead and adding CCTV surveillance to parks, community centers and even to the streets in general.

There are many legitimate, sensible and valid reasons for doing so and most people understand that. But when it comes to being monitored at work? This is where some people begin to ‘draw the line’.

Some of the people’s fears about video surveillance at work are, unfortunately, fueled by the popular media. There have been a number of stories about employers who overstepped the mark and used their CCTV system in unethical and sometimes criminal ways. Such things are actually rather uncommon, but the media does not always portray this.

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Another big reason that some employees dislike being monitored while they work is a feeling that by doing so their employer is showing that they believe that their workforce is untrustworthy, something that admittedly can be an unpleasant thought for a loyal, hardworking person who feels like they give the company their all.

And finally there is a simple, basic dislike of being ‘spied on’. Some people feel that this will add additional pressure on them to ‘perform’ in a certain way and others simply don’t enjoy being watched.

Talking to Your Employees about CCTV

Legally, the only federal limits that exist on a business' ability to watch workers involve eavesdropping or spying in areas where personal rather than professional discussions occur, such as cafeterias, bathrooms and locker rooms.

Most state-level regulations involve the issue of informed consent, meaning employers typically just need to communicate with employees about monitoring beforehand and receive written confirmation that they agree to it. But you should do more than just inform your employees of your intentions, you should open up a dialogue about the inevitable concerns they will have.

The best way to deal with these concerns is to face them head on before the installation company arrives to get to work. By calling a meeting–preferably a somewhat informal and relaxed one, maybe over breakfast or lunch, and opening up a sensible conversation about CCTV in the workplace will often help allay employee fears and concerns.

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Accentuate the Positives

Take the time to point out all the positives of the idea. CCTV footage can be used to resolve disputes, to deter visitors to the premises from behaving inappropriately and, especially in the case of outdoor cameras trained on a parking lot, help keep employees safer. After all, it’s not exactly uncommon for you to feel a little nervous walking to your car at the end of the day, even if you are at a place as familiar as your company parking lot.

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