Workplace surveillance, in various forms, has increased dramatically in the last decade. Using surveillance to document and record daily activities in your business, while a good idea, can have a negative effect on employee morale and satisfaction.

Many businesses these days use some form of surveillance. Common workplace surveillance can include telephone monitoring, video surveillance, and Internet surveillance. In an effort to curb theft, improve employee productivity, and increase employee security, many companies are also inadvertently allowing a host of negative effects at the door.

false sense of security

The use of video surveillance can induce a false sense of security. Companies should not rely on electronic monitoring systems, instead of human supervision. Workplace surveillance can be used very effectively to enhance existing security, but it should not replace it.


No one likes the idea of ​​having their every move monitored. Workplace surveillance can give employees the impression that they are constantly being monitored and evaluated by their superiors. Regardless of the type of surveillance, be it video, email, or phone monitoring, workplace surveillance can create tension and resentment between employees and their employers.

invasion of privacy

Workplace surveillance can get complicated when it comes to privacy issues. Make sure if you are installing any type of place of business monitoring that you are fully aware of the laws and regulations in your particular location. In both Canada and the United States, everyone is entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Simply, there are some places where it is not allowed to place the camera or other monitoring devices. For example, everyone has the right to expect privacy in a bathroom or locker room. There are strict, location-specific laws regarding the recording of conversations. Make sure you know the laws that govern your area.


With the more frequent use of employee supervision, the possibility of discriminatory termination arises. There have been more than a number of popular cases brought against employers by employees who were fired for reasons they felt were unjustified, but an invasion of their personal privacy. Some of these cases have been known to include being fired for emailing jokes from a work computer and distributing union emails in times of dispute.

No one likes to feel like their every move is being monitored. It is important to weigh the positive and negative effects of surveillance in the workplace.

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