Surveillance Cameras and Video Monitoring: Pros and Cons

July 19, 2022

If you are concerned about loss through employee theft, thieves breaking in after you close, or just want to improve security on your premises, video surveillance is the way to go.

Video monitoring and surveillance have become extremely affordable, easy to implement and effective, and they are excellent risk management and loss-reduction tools.

For a small investment, cameras can stream video that you can monitor via a website or phone app and record activities at your business, on-site or remotely.

Image storage is almost limitless, and the video history of the store can be kept in multiple locations for safety and ease of replacement. Each day of video can be kept in a log and easily indexed.

This video record has multiple uses. In real time, monitoring can deter violent crime, shoplifting or employee theft. It can help address customer service by dispatching employees to underserved areas of a store, and recognize a need for restocking merchandise or securing a blind area on the premises.

It also helps keep an eye on employees when there are no supervisors monitoring behavior, as well as enabling you to monitor your business from any remote location.

Effective uses of monitoring, surveillance

Certainly, watching the perimeter of the business, exits, entrances and sensitive areas prevents break-ins and provides evidence when crimes occur.

Monitoring the inside of the business after hours does much the same and helps detect fires, water leakage, earthquake damage and other losses where a quick response is vital.

Video on your business’s premises can:

  • Discourage criminals from choosing your facility as a target,
  • Catch parking lot fender-benders and other accidents,
  • Be useful inside a store to prove the legitimacy or illegitimacy of slip and fall claims,
  • Create a record of what occurs (and doesn’t) on your premises, and
  • Uncover employee theft.

It can also be an effective training tool. You can use tape to:

  • Show staff and new hires examples of good customer service, poor service and difficult customers;
  • Help new employees identify regular customers on sight;
  • Demonstrate good lifting techniques and other safety tips;
  • Show examples of correct and incorrect behavior.


There are also a few disadvantages of setting up video surveillance systems in the workplace:

Employee privacy — It is not necessary that the employer should monitor employees’ each and every step and activity. There is also a limit to the surveillance factor, and the employer is required to take steps keeping the conditions in mind.

Moreover, if the video surveillance systems and cameras are set up at inappropriate places, you can be liable for invasion of privacy claims. It is important to keep in mind the potential legality involved in such claims, and to devise and incorporate the video surveillance system accordingly for the purpose of averting pricey legal formalities and actions.

Possible decrease in morale — Video surveillance can really have a bad effect on the morale of employees. It can create a feeling in the minds of workers that the company does not trust them and has a doubt about their activities. This might even lead to unhealthy relations between workers and company management, and a decrease in productivity.

False sense of security — An employee surveillance system can sometimes lull you into a false sense of security. When you have active surveillance, you automatically assume that you have all of the necessary angles covered.

Not foolproof — Employees that want to defeat your monitoring system can find methods that you may have missed when you installed the system.

Responding to employee theft

A final word on what to do if you catch someone doing something illegal. Never confront an employee one-on-one about theft. Always have a third party in the room, preferably an HR manager.

You may want to consider having trained security personnel at the ready if you are concerned about the employee reacting violently.

For serious offenses, such as employee fraud with a high dollar value, termination may be your only option. Just be sure to follow all regulations governing employee dismissal. You may also choose to report the matter to law enforcement and press criminal charges.

For petty theft, a written warning, probationary period and restitution may be sufficient.