HR & Management

Are you aware of Google searches your staff are making?

3 min read

31 January 2018

While the Google search engine's function is to point you to the most relevant information you need, it can also be used to pinpoint current trends. This was highlighted by First4Lawyers, which tried to spot staff grievances based on popular Google searches.

We often take to Google to have our questions answered, but there’s a shocking amount of information out there. That’s why we breathe a sigh of relief when the search engine attempts to complete whatever sentence we type based on current trends and previous queries.

For example, by simply typing “Can my boss”, Google supplies suggestions such as, “Can my boss reduce my hours?” and “Can my boss shout at me?” But why bring up this specific example?

It was part of First4Lawyer’s analysis of the worries staff have regarding employers. More specifically, the company hoped to find out what made today’s employees unhappy, what fostered resentment, as well as the type of behaviour and decisions that had them second-guessing the business as a whole.

To expand their findings, the First4Lawyer team typed three different sentence starters into the search box, the first being, “Can my boss”. Google suggestions included:

“Can my boss tell me” was the next unfinished sentence of choice, painting a more resentful workforce picture. It also offered up, according to First4Lawyer, one of the most popular Google searches made by UK employees: “Can my boss tell me to wear makeup?”

First4Lawyer also wanted to find queries starting with “Is my boss allowed”.

“Inappropriate employer related queries are apparent in the Google suggestions,” the company explained. “The search data also reveals that many employees are under pressure to look a certain way. And worryingly, employees seem to feel at risk of having their privacy invaded as queries such as ‘Is my boss allowed to record me at work’ suggest.

“Google searches including ‘Can my boss withhold my pay?’, ‘Is my boss allowed to read my emails’ and ‘Can my boss change my schedule without notice’ all featured as autocomplete suggestions, hinting that many employees are treated unfairly.”

This could be why, when typing “Why do my staff” into the Google search box, the top suggestions include “Why do my staff hate me?” and “Why do my staff keep leaving?”

Looking closely at the results, employees seem keen to know their own rights – and what employers are legally entitled to do. Perhaps there’s a gap in perception of the power bosses wield. Maybe employers aren’t coming across as approachable or staff genuinely don’t know what can and can’t happen to them.

Either way, we know that motivation plummets when a “bad vibe” hangs in the air. What’s more, such “current trend” searches can be avoided through proper workplace preparation, thorough contracts and employee handbooks, consistency across the board in terms of staff treatment and a patience first mentality.