What is the best way for HR to handle violence in the workplace? How about drug abuse, pornography, theft, lowered productivity and on-the-job injuries? Couple the losses from these activities with the cost of litigation and the solution for many companies is: Surveillance!
A greater amount of employers are turning to the use of video surveillance cameras and other high-tech security measures to keep an eye on employees so they can stave off injuries, bad behavior and other kinds of loss. I’m not a fan of cameras, but if done appropriately, monitoring can increase productivity and reduce misbehavior. But would you trade these benefits for the new set of problems a monitoring system brings to workplace?
If an employer is going to do it, from a legal perspective, unveiling surveillance is the wisest approach. Employers need to let employees know that they will be monitored so their reasonable expectation of privacy is removed. Not knowing often forms the basis for invasion of privacy lawsuits arising under common law.
The law is not yet fully developed on the issue of surveillance in the workplace. Nevertheless, the cases that have been decided propose that the courts will consider the ‘disclosure factor’ in determining whether privacy rights of an employee have been violated, or whether other illegal activity has taken place. By letting employees know that their activity will be monitored, the employer will lessen an employees' expectation for privacy and as a result, reinforce its defense in court.
I’m a big proponent of trust, happiness and fun in the workplace. I believe that trying to eliminate theft or drug abuse needs to happen in the interview process, not by instigating an intense surveillance system with measures that will erode the framework of a positive culture and trust within a company.
Employers need to incorporate HR professionals at the earliest phase of considering and implementing a surveillance system in the workplace. Employers also need to work toward a company wide solution that does not harm morale and is comprehensible to employees. Employers also must be certain that surveillance systems do not infringe upon collective bargaining contracts, or create an atmosphere of shadowing in the middle of a union-organizing campaign.
Finally, given the changing legal setting of this issue, any employer that chooses to keep an eye on its employees through surveillance should also be sure to stay fresh on the law.
Last month, I wrote a post about my effort to improve communication at work through a "secret group" forum on Facebook. I'm posting again to report how well it's been working. Maybe you should try it at work too!
All our employees at each of our 3 locations have gotten involved and it's been amazing to see all the conversations going on...we're actually getting things done on Facebook...at work!
Where it's really helped the most is with logistics and scheduling. Sales communicates their needs with Procurement and Production, these departments respond with updates, ETAs, questions etc. It's so easy to post your status, what you have questions on, or what you need help with in one place. Our business flow runs so much smoother now that we're all on the same page. Overall, when all employees are scanning our Facebook wall they become more informed and useful throughout the day.
I find it interesting how company's ban social media rather than finding ways like this to harness the free technology. Really, everyone was sneaking on it throughout the day anyway, so I figured I might as well integrate it and make it productive.
Don't be afraid to Poke the Box, you juts might solve a problem.
I believe that a company's job application should reflect its core values. An applicant may be qualified, but if she doesn't share the same core values as the organization, then it's simply not a good fit. That's why I think a standard application is junk - unless of course your business is stiff and boring. Sure there is a lot of legal trash you've got to have in there to protect your business and reduce exposure to litigation, but that's what the fine print is for.
Behold, here's my company's spankin' new job application that I've designed (with a little help from Sell!Sell!) to reflect the core values of my organization.
If you don't like it, tell me why. I like it because it's fun. One thing I've got to say about management is this:
"If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."
I recently read this Businessweek article, God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders. So here's my opinion as a former missionary and recent MBA grad:
First off, it would be important to note that there is a disproportionately large number of non-religious people among the educated and wealthy in our society. Serving a Mormon mission does not guarantee success in business or politics, but it can sure help. Nevertheless, it was nice to read such a positive piece about missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a major news publication. I'm still rather surprised they would write about such a topic.
The missionary experience is a truly incredible opportunity. From a business angle, you develop keen leadership traits as well as perfect your skills in sales and marketing. You learn how to really care about people and build sincere relationships of trust. You work 16+ hours a day, seven days a week. You study your guts out because you have to know the entire Bible and Book of Mormon as well as other religious scripts and dialogs like the back of your hand. Some lucky missionaries even get to learn Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Mandarin on top of everything else. The best experience of all comes in dealing with and handling objections because you develop the moxie to persist in making that call or knocking on that door after hundreds rejections.
In my opinion, I believe that no matter what religion you subscribe to, when a young man hits the age of 19, he needs to leave home, move far away (a third world country if at all possible), wear a uniform every day, get a short hair cut, give up girls, cars, music, television, movies, concerts, cell phones, facebook and the pursuit of money to live on a very small budget and just serve people - in other words, actually step outside oneself for once and learn some charity. Just imagine what this would do for the world we live in.
This quote by
Guy Kawasaki will put it all into perspective for a bootstrapped entrepreneur who's learning on the fly in the school of hard knocks:
Focus on cash flow. I understand the difference between cash flow and profitability, and I'm not recommending that you strive for a lack of profitability. But cash is what keeps the doors open and pays the bills. Paper profits on an accrual accounting basis is of no more than secondary or tertiary importance for a startup. As my mother used to say, "Sales fixes everything."
Indeed, sales does fix everything. But high revenues also cover-up a great deal of inefficiencies. But who really cares about inefficiencies when sales are up? That is until they are down.
In times of revenue-feast, if you don't pay attention to where your money is going, and you don't hunker down and follow a meticulous budget then when times of revenue-famine occur you won't have any idea how to pull your company out of a death spiral which will bring an organization to insolvency very quickly.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
Search this site: