Should You Videotape Employees?

Is monitoring employees with cameras worth it?
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Writer and Author, Specializing in Business and Finance
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This story appears in the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Wonder what your employees are doing when you're not there to mind the store? Sovus Media has come up with a multimedia answer. For $5,000 to $7,000 per location, you can set up surveillance equipment that allows you to see, hear and talk to employees, giving shop owners and managers a window into their stores.

Ron Hammer, president of Sovus Media, says that in addition to facilitating communication, the system is a strong motivator for employees to perform. "We are able to view and communicate with stores over the internet," he says.

But is this an invaluable efficiency booster--or just Big Brother? Terri Kabachnick, CEO of The Kabachnick Group Inc., a Largo, Florida, retail consulting practice, says it depends. "If your insurance company requires it, or you know people are stealing from you, that's one thing," she explains. "But unless employees know they're going to be monitored from the point of being hired, you could have backlash."

For a more low-tech way to keep employees honest, says Kabachnick, invest in incentives to foster employee loyalty. Use rewards for excellent sales or customer service, institute proper training, and focus on hiring people who want to work for you. The minute you eliminate trust, she says, relationships deteriorate.

Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans.
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