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Employers spy on their workers more than you think — here’s how: report

Ann Schmidt

Employers might be checking up their workers more than they think, according to a new report.

Aside from monitoring employees’ emails, some companies are keeping track of texts, chat messages, phone calls and ID badges, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the outlet, workers have been signing agreements for years that say any communication that happens on a company device is the property of the company, but employers are finally coming around to using that information.

Companies can use the data to monitor productivity and employee’s relationships with clients and co-workers. They can also use it to keep intellectual property private when an employee leaves, The Journal reported.

For example, Microsoft keeps track of how often their workers are chatting, emailing and going to meetings using its Office 365 programs. Managers at the company are only able to look at groups of five or more workers, according to The Journal.

Employees with the company’s sales team -- and not their managers -- were also reportedly able to see their own results along with advice for how to better spend their time.

Some companies, such as Macy’s and Freddie Mac, also use Microsoft’s analytics software, while others bring in analytics firms to look at their employees’ data.

According to The Journal, McKesson Corp. brought in the firm TrustSphere to analyze their employees’ emails -- looking at the sender, recipient and timing -- to better understand their workers’ relationships.

TrustSphere told The Journal that it doesn’t look at the content of messages or emails, but it can still find out plenty of information about employees’ relationships by seeing which workers get faster responses and how frequently they communicate.

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While companies have argued that monitoring employees can help them better manage their workers, The Journal reported, some people are wary of all the surveillance.

“There’s what’s legally right and what you need to do to maintain trusting relationships with your employees, and they are not always the same thing,” Stacia Garr, the co-founder of RedThread Research, a firm that advises companies on issues related to human resources, told The Journal.

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