Should I Use Surveillance in My Business?

surveillance in your business

It’s a controversial topic these days with privacy issues always looming. But using surveillance in your business may sometimes be a necessity. Dangers to your business and your employees range from the financial to the physical.

Should you have surveillance in your business? Here are some things to consider.

Surveillance In Your Business Can. . .

Reduce Theft from Inside and Out

Theft remains a major issue. In fact, there could be as many as 275 million incidents of retail theft globally each year, reports Matt Pillar. Pillar is the editor in chief at Integrated Solutions for Retailers, a website for the retail industry.

But of those, only an estimated 1 in 46 arrests are ever made in connection with those thefts. More concerning, however, is the fact that about 1/6 of those arrested, about 1 million total, are employees.

Of course, non-retail businesses face the threat of theft too. This includes everything from theft of company property to theft of intellectual property. So these are all factors a business owner must weigh.

Improve Overall Business Operations

When Ryan Elmore installed video surveillance at his restaurant a few years ago, the results were huge, reports CNN Money. Elmore is co-owner of Pepper Jack’s Neighborhood Grill in Erie, Col.

With the new surveillance, Elmore discovered his manager in charge was ducking out of his responsibilities. He also discovered that employees were giving away free meals to friends. They were also taking multiple smoking breaks and texting instead of working while he was gone, he says.

On top of everything else, Elmore discovered his restaurant was overstaffed. By adjusting work schedules, he cut his labor costs by 5 percent. And by clamping down on free meals, he decreased food costs by 3 percent.

Boost Productivity and Profits

Yet more data suggests surveillance of employees can actually boost productivity and profits. For example, electronic surveillance of employees allows managers to spend less time monitoring and more time in other more productive ways, reports Bloomberg Business.

Bloomberg also reports on a study of the effects of surveillance at 392 restaurants. Restaurants where surveillance was in force saw not only a 22 percent drop in theft but a 7 percent increase in profits.

The study concludes employees edged up productivity as a result of surveillance. One possible reason was a desire amongst those who may have been skimming to make up the difference by earning better tips.

Curb Sexual Harassment Issues in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace remains an issue despite laws against the behavior that date back decades.

While the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission received about 7,500 complaints in 2012, the number of occurrences is probably much higher, reports the Huffington Post. More to the point, monetary benefits last year paid as a result of sexual harassment claims hit $43 million, the commission reports.

Besides just being motivated by a decent concern for your employees’ well being, you should be concerned about how sexual harassment can adversely affect your company’s financial status, morale and even productivity.

Use of surveillance in the workplace can discourage such behavior from ever starting if employees know their actions are being watched. If not, at the very least it can help gather evidence once a sexual harassment complaint has been filed. It can also help your company formulate a response.

Reduce Incidents of Workplace Violence

Like sexual harassment, workplace violence remains a constant problem in the U.S. For example, nearly 17 percent of fatal work injuries in the U.S. in 2011 were the result of workplace violence, reports.

That’s close to 780 fatal work injuries a year.

Surveillance in the workplace may discourage these and other incidents of workplace violence, property damage or vandalism before they happen. Or, at the very least, it will allow your company to provide adequate information to law enforcement after an event has occurred.


Clearly there are many considerations when deciding whether to engage in surveillance in your business. For example, another study suggests surveillance may lead to more stress, anxiety, depression, health complaints and fatigue in the workplace (the other side of the coin).

However, it’s important to consider both positives and negatives for your business when coming to a decision on this difficult and potentially controversial issue.

Surveillance Photo via Shutterstock


Pratik Dholakiya Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few.

15 Reactions
  1. I used to work at a company where we took large sums of money and were under surveillance. All the cashiers liked the idea that if our tills came up short, the company could see that it wasn’t because we were pocketing it.

    I guess it would depend on how it was introduced into a company, and what was done with it. For example, our recordings were only used for dealing with complaints (a client would say they gave us $100 when they really gave us $50) or for checking for errors in the tills. It wasn’t used to compare performance between the cashiers or to spy on staff.

  2. Surveillance will not only help prevent frivolous lawsuits but it will also keep employees in check. Many people don’t like being watched all the time, but if they are doing a good job, it won’t even matter.

    • Agree. If you don’t want to be seen, that means you have something to hide. I know some people get offended if their boss is going to install a camera on their office. It makes them feel that they don’t trust them. But then again, you don’t have anything to be fearful of if you have nothing to hide.

  3. Martin Lindeskog

    Pratik: I think you should have the benefit of the doubt of the individuals who are entering the store and your employees, but a surveillance camera system could be handy in an emergency situation, e.g., an accident.

  4. Owning a business without owning a professionally installed video surveillance security system is like driving a car without a seat belt. You might think you’re ok but eventually your luck will run out.

  5. My issue with this is that customers and workers both get a lot more surveillance and a lot of a loss of privacy without getting anything in return.

  6. Thanks for the wonderful read. You wrote that there are 275 million incidents of retail theft each year, and that only 1 in 46 are arrested. I had heard in the past that video surveillance was a great option for businesses, to help deter crime. With video surveillance, you would be able to see who the criminal is, and have justice served. Definitely a worthwhile investment for all kinds of businesses.

  7. I had no idea that surveillance at restaurants dropped the theft percentage by 22%. I can see why this would be a good reason to consider getting it for your business. I think it also provides a level of comfort for your employees and customers. I know that whenever I go into a restaurant or business I like to look for the cameras just in case something happens.

  8. Great information, Surveillance is most important for business, its not only help for reduce theft but also helps to increase productivity.

  9. Having cameras at the workplace sounds like a good idea. I had no idea that they could even help employees be more productive. The place I work doesn’t have any cameras, so I’ll tell my boss to read this.

  10. I hadn’t thought about how surveillance cameras can discourage people from stealing. I have been looking for ways to keep my property safer. I can see how it would be nice to have some cameras installed soon because it would help me feel less paranoid during the night.

  11. It’s interesting how you said that once there were cameras in place the manager of a restaurant could help reduce costs. Having some kind of a drive camera service would probably work much the same way. That way as a business owner you could know what happens inside of vehicles that you own to ensure that things are getting done properly.

  12. I thought it was interesting that having security cameras in your business could help managers focus on more important jobs. My friend has been thinking of starting a new business, but he isn’t sure if he should get a security system or not. I think he’d be interested in reading this article, so I’ll mention it to him. Where can he learn more about the benefits of security systems?

  13. Thanks for explaining why having surveillance can be good for your business. It’s good to know that it can actually boost productivity in employees. I’m interested to learn if this works better in a store or if it can work well in an office as well.

  14. Thank you for highlighting the fact that surveillance cameras are great for deterring theft at your place of business. I’m thinking about opening a record store in the future, so I’ll want to make sure that I buy a surveillance camera system for it. I’m going to look for a reputable business that can sell me a surveillance camera system.