Magazine article Security Management

Surveillance That Delivers Results: Deutsche Post Collaborated with Its Workers on Rolling out a New CCTV System. Employee Buy-In Has Helped Make the System a Success

Magazine article Security Management

Surveillance That Delivers Results: Deutsche Post Collaborated with Its Workers on Rolling out a New CCTV System. Employee Buy-In Has Helped Make the System a Success

Article excerpt

Sometimes referred to as the Yellow Giant, Germany's Deutsche Post World Net is Europe's largest postal provider and one of the largest transportation groups worldwide. In Germany its nearly 207,000 employees collect, process, and deliver 72 million pieces of standard and express mail and parcels per day. The company also offers solutions for the entire logistics supply chain and related services such as mail process outsourcing and online bulk mail management.


Deutsche Post strives to ensure that mail under its charge remains pristine for both insurance and liability reasons, since the company could be sued for negligence and held responsible for reimbursing senders for the value of any lost or broken overnight shipment. To ensure the integrity of its operations, the company uses CCTV in both its mail and parcel sorting centers as well as in some postal branches and in administration and production facilities, including its Bonn headquarters building and its IT center. The company's approach offers lessons for other businesses, especially with regard to how management worked with employees to craft an effective CCTV program at its parcel sorting centers.

Worker involvement. Under German law (and, in fact, throughout much of Europe), if employees request it, companies are required to have works councils--groups of employees that protect the rights and interests of employees. These groups are independent of and separate from trade unions. Works councils are empowered to jointly determine with management the introduction, use, and management of systems that electronically monitor employees, including CCTV.

Therefore, when Deutsche Post decided to set up a surveillance program, management knew that it would have to work closely with works council representatives to gain their support, says Deutsche Post Vice President of Corporate Security Michael Schmidt.

Setting policy. One key to getting employee buy-in was to convince the council that the system would not be open to abuse. Both parties agreed that making the system overt was a good first step toward building trust. Deutsche Post decided to openly install the cameras and make them obvious. Moreover, signs were posted throughout the facilities to remind employees of the cameras' presence. This arrangement satisfied the works council while also serving management's goal of crime deterrence, says Schmidt.

The next step toward building employee trust in the system was to work with the council to develop a written policy on the use of CCTV. The council's main concern was that the system not be used to scrutinize staff behavior or performance. To that end, the policy provided that only certain people could view live feeds or videotape and that tape could only be reviewed when there was suspicion of a crime.

Under a "four-eye" policy, a member of the works council would work with a security officer when live transmissions were being monitored or when videotape was being reviewed during an investigation. Control center operators would only be expected to actively monitor live transmissions in cases of "high-risk situations," such as during terrorism warnings and bomb threats.

If CCTV confirms a crime or yields an admission of culpability, company policy calls for the guilty employee to be terminated and a report to be filed with police. But if, during the review of the videotape, evidence of momentary goldbricking or unintentional damage inflicted by mail sorters is discovered, those images cannot be used as justification for a reprimand, reassignment, or termination.

The policy also provides that, for privacy reasons, videocassettes will not be kept indefinitely. Tape retention depends on local regulations, but the average is four weeks, according to Schmidt.

Installation and setup. Once management had worker agreement on the policy, installation could proceed. …

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