Stress

Analysis of UK Google search data by Bupa shows that ‘how to deal with stress’, ‘signs of stress’ and ‘time management’ are the most searched for phrases linked to stress and work-life balance

With 11.7 million working days lost annually in the UK[1] due to work related stress, depression or anxiety, it’s no surprise employees are increasingly looking for advice on stress relief. As employees gradually return to work following relaxing summer holidays, analysis of Google search data by Bupa shows that phrases such as ‘how to deal with stress’ and ‘signs of stress’ are extensively searched by British employees on a regular basis.

When it comes to asking for practical support for work stress, people are increasingly looking online. The most popular search in relation to work pressures and work-life balance is ‘time management’, with thousands of Brits going online in the hope of finding the solution to juggling a busy workload outside of the workplace.

The research reveals that search numbers on the subject of stress and work-life balance slow during the summer months and spike again from September onwards. Notably, ‘work stress’ and the question ‘how to cope with stress’ are also two of the most frequent searches.

Meanwhile, ‘pressure at work’ and ‘tips for a better work-life balance’ also fall within the top 10 Google searches in connection with stress and work-life balance.

Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK commented:

Burnout is cited as one of the major reasons employees leave organisations.

 “Although a small amount of stress can help some people to perform, feeling stressed for a sustained period of time is not good for your mental or physical health. In the short term it can cause someone to make mistakes and to become more irritable, but it can also lead to a sense of hopelessness and depression.

 “A very natural response to work stress and a feeling that we have too much to do is to work longer in a bid to boost productivity, but spending longer on a project doesn’t always mean more is achieved. It is about the quality of time spent working: working five hours at hundred per cent efficiency is better than eight hours at fifty per cent efficiency.

 “In recent years we have seen a focus amongst businesses to boost employee engagement and wellbeing by creating an open supportive environment for their people but our research shows that many employees are also looking to the internet to see help they can help themselves as well.”

Dr Pablo Vandenabeele offers his top tips for employers to help reduce their employees’ stress and improve work life balance as they return from their summer holidays:

  1. Communicate with your team – make your employees feel valued and encourage a culture of openness. Managers should have constant open lines of communication with their employees about their wellbeing.
  2. Consider flexibility – employers can help to make sure jobs are flexible, considering individual circumstances. Where possible, they should consult with employees on any changes that are likely to affect them before they take place and encourage them to ask questions so that they feel involved.
  3. Learn more about stress relievers so you can point your team to extra support –get to know about more about stress and how to deal with it. It’s well known that meditation and mindfulness can help. Managers could direct employees towards mindfulness apps or podcasts or even organise sessions to just discuss wellness and further build the culture of openness.
  4. Look for early signs of stress – some common early signs of stress are poor concentration, low mood, feeling overwhelmed and irritability. If you notice any of these signs in your team members, check in with them. It’s sometimes easier if you start the conversation. Use the power of “how are you?” – a simple but profound question if given the space it deserves.
  5. Lead by example – senior managers can also actively promote a healthy lifestyle themselves by having a good work-life balance, managing their working hours, using their full holiday entitlement and taking lunch breaks.

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/stress.pdf