They're watchin' you, watchin' you, watchin' you

Posted on July 2, 2006

There are numerous ways to make people work. Some bosses like to give incentives, like days off, bonuses and pony rides. Others like to drive fear into their employees, perhaps with threats of being fired or a whip.

There's a new idea that may make watching your employees as simple as hanging a poster on the wall. A study completed recently in the UK found that having a picture of watching eyes on the wall made people more honest about paying for drinks in the break room.

Since we're on the topic of honestly, I guess this isn't really a new idea. George Orwell's 1984 captures this somewhat by plastering the town with pictures of Big Brother, who appears to be watching over everyone.

Maybe people feel self-conscious about not paying if they perceive that they are being watched. And quite possibly, if workers think they are being watched, they may produce more. While the study proves this, at least, in the given instance, it surely wouldn't last for very long. Troublesome employees will eventually relax their fears of the eyes and not even notice the image as they aimlessly drift by. On the flip side, all of the honest employees will probably take offense to the pair of non-blinking eyelids, unless they are practicing for the annual stare-down contest.

People will quickly realize that even if the private eyes see your every move, that's not going to stop them from doing what they always do. Besides, they've probably started singing a different Hall & Oates song by now.