I am considering installing a camera surveillance system, but do not want my staff to feel I have become "Big Brother" watching their every move.
Answer: This has become a very common concern as we see more and more systems being installed. It is important that you remember two things:
1) There are obvious safety concerns that can be better addressed by having cameras located at points of entry and back dock (delivery-storage) areas. Care and concern for your management and staff is your number-one priority.
2) Becoming "Big Brother" isn't a matter of the installation of the cameras but in their implementation. I know of restaurant owners that observe key areas within the kitchen, bar, host, and server station areas. Of course, the information gathered can (and is) used to correct staff who may have mishandled cash, prepared product incorrectly, or poorly handled a guest; however, many times the information is used to compliment the staff for doing exactly what they were supposed to do. Good use of these cameras include properly motivating your staff to complete their duties correctly, work well together, and better serve the guests.
I always remind my clients to call their restaurants to point out how they appreciate the way the kitchen just knocked out a big order, properly checked in the day's deliveries, or that they noticed the back doors were kept locked and the office was secure. Noticing the things that go right help managers and staff want to do it right more often.
RestaurantOwner.com members, for more information on surveillance cameras in the restaurant, see:
Video Surveillance: How Independent Operators Are Using Closed Circuit TV to Improve Controls, Reduce Theft & More -- http://www.restaurantowner.com/members/482.cfm