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Are you making your staff suspicious?

By CCIWA Editor

The increased use of surveillance of staff by their employers may be engendering a cycle of mistrust, according to a report in the Harvard Business Review. 

Businesses have a number of very handy surveillance tools open to them these days, from keystroke trackers to hidden cameras, traceable identification cards and GPS trackers. 

However, HBR says a rise in managerial monitoring can make employees more resentful that they’re being watched, leading them to evade cameras, where possible. 

The Catch 22 is that you can then wonder why your staff are trying to avoid surveillance and begin to mistrust them, allowing you to then feel more justified in using more surveillance. 

Surveillance is a complex legal issue and businesses need to ensure they are complying with the relevant legislation, to avoid legal action. 

“If you want to monitor your staffs’ movements, and ensure they are being productive, contact the CCI’s legal consulting team which can advise you on the relevant legislation and an employer’s obligations,” CCI’s Manager of Workplace Relations, Ryan Martin, said. 

“If you’re going to terminate someone by relying on GPS surveillance, for example, you’ll need to be very familiar with the WA Electronic Surveillance Devices Act (1998), or it could be a whole different ball game,” he said. 

An HBR study of 89 transport security administration officers and their managers, interviewed after the World Trade Centre attacks, revealed that workers felt they were being watched Big Brother-style, even when the cameras had sometimes been installed to protect them from being accused of baggage tampering. 

Consequently, some employees began taking longer toilet breaks, or taking longer to walk through unmonitored areas, where they knew they weren’t being watched and could have a break from the cameras.  

The result, of course, reduced productivity. 

Martin said that if monitoring for procedural fairness, employers need to have policies in place to let staff know this will occur. 

“If you’ve got policies in place and someone breaches them it becomes a much better argument,” Martin said.  

“It’s about having those procedures firmly in place.”

The increased use of surveillance of staff by their employers may be engendering a cycle of mistrust, according to a report in the Harvard Business Review. 

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