The Impact of Surveillance on Employee Behavior

Researchers have known for a long time that people act differently when they’re being observed. Surveillance technology has the same effect. And now, we’re seeing exactly how much retail surveillance can change employee’s behavior – saving their employer remarkable amounts of money.

A recent study, Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity, found that restaurant workers who know they are under video surveillance are less likely to steal and may even be more productive. This means that a surveillance system in a restaurant environment actively enhances the company’s bottom line.

Employee Surveillance

Employee theft and fraud is no small problem. According to The New York Times, it costs the economy an estimated $200 billion a year. Theft can be especially hurtful for restaurants, which have such slim profit margins to begin with.

The study found that employees who know they were being watched through surveillance technology were much less likely to steal or engage in fraud. This helped to increase the per-restaurant revenue by about 7 percent, which, in some cases, might be the difference between success and closure.

In addition, the study found that the servers who knew they were being observed also improved their performance overall – for example, by upselling customers with additional drinks and dessert. This increased tips for themselves and raised the restaurant’s revenue overall.

The study used surveillance software that tracks all transactions and detects suspicious patterns. Restaurants and retail stores can also benefit from video cameras and video management software to keep an even closer eye on employee behavior. Using a surveillance system with a VMS, an employer can view live and recorded video, export video clips to other users (such as managers or offsite owners) and be alerted when certain events occur or thresholds are reached. Many VMS systems can even be integrated with a business’ point-of-sale system so that any suspicious transaction is automatically linked to a video clip.

Not only do these types of systems keep employees accountable; they also help free up managers and supervisors who previously were responsible for “manually” keeping an eye on employees. Considering the large staff and high turnover of the restaurant and retail industries, the time savings offered by surveillance technology are substantial.

Any retail or restaurant company that is suffering from theft and fraud should look into installing surveillance technology. Even a basic system will help managers stay more informed, while encouraging employees to always be on their best behavior.

Find out more about WavestoreUSA’s complete surveillance solutions at