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Employees turning to the internet for tips on stress

Searches on stress and work/life balance slow during the summer and spike again from September

Employees are turning to the internet for advice on work stress, improving their work/life balance and coping with pressure, according to research from Bupa.

The ‘stress and work/life balance’ research analysed Google searches in the UK, and found that the phrase ‘how to deal with stress’ received 62,400 enquiries in 2016, and ‘work stress’ saw 34,440 searches. ‘Work/life balance’ (23,160), pressure at work (9,480), and ‘how to reduce work stress’ (12,720) were also common search terms.

The research found that searches on the subject of stress and work/life balance slow during the summer months and spike again from September onwards.

Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical director for mental health at Bupa UK, told HR magazine that employees who are not helped to cope with pressure or stress risk experiencing ‘burnout’, where their productivity suffers. “Taking steps to mitigate and manage burnout can help a business to reduce the level of absenteeism, retain and attract key talent and boost employee engagement, innovation and productivity,” he said.

“Many of us check our work emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night which can lead to burnout. Studying Google’s search data revealed that the most popular search in relation to work pressures and work/life balance is ‘time management’ [97,200 searches] as thousands of employees go online in the hope of finding the solution to juggling a busy workload outside of the workplace. Creating a culture where employees feel comfortable talking to their colleagues and line managers if they feel they are under too much pressure will help businesses to provide the support their people need.”

Vandenabeele suggested that supporting line managers to spot symptoms of burnout could help to mitigate the problem. “By working closely with line managers, HR can help leaders spot when an employee’s behaviour changes,” he said. “Not all businesses will have the budget to create their own resources, but there are already toolkits created by bodies, such as the BITC Wellbeing toolkit, which provide useful guidance on how to start conversations about mental health.”