A recent Google search trends analysis and study by Elements Global sought to explore what HR-related questions people are frequently researching, and by extension, what pain points these searches implicate in the modern workplace.
As millions of Americans continue to work remotely, privacy and surveillance are rising as top concerns for employees. In fact, the Google search trend analysis showed that employee’s concerns over privacy and surveillance made up 42% of the top 50 most common searches. Compensation was also a major topic in the analysis, representing 22% of the most common search trends.
To complement this analysis, 1,000 full-time employees were also surveyed. These respondents, who work across more than a dozen industries, were asked questions to better understand their experiences with HR management and their concerns about employers.
For the Google search analysis, a list was narrowed to the top 50 most searched HR-related questions, and then that list was sorted into eight categories: privacy, compensation, surveillance, rest, interpersonal, benefits, scheduling, and termination.
After conducting the Google search analysis, certain themes were followed up in the survey of 1,000 full-time workers. The relationship between employees and their HR managers or departments was a major theme explored.
According to the survey results, 83% of workers say they trust their HR manager or department. However, a few industries have not established such trust consistently. Around 50% of people working in media and 69% working in hospitality say they don’t trust HR.
Entry-level women are the least likely to say they trust HR to protect their interests (68%), versus everyone else (79%). Conversely, entry-level men (83%) have a nearly equal expectation that their interests will be protected as do senior-level women (84%).
Additionally, two-thirds of workers say they have not reported something to HR because they don’t believe HR will fix the issue. The most frequently cited problems were having too much work, a personality clash and bullying.
As privacy and surveillance were two of the top concerns among the Google search trend analysis, it’s clear that employees are very concerned about being monitored or surveilled during their work. This applies to both remote and in-person workers.
Of the full-time workers surveyed, 74% of those working remotely are concerned about their employer monitoring when and how much they work. 76% of respondents who use a computer are concerned about their employer monitoring their communications.
The survey results demonstrate the shared experience of feeling the need to hide things from your boss. Two in three workers are concerned about their location being disclosed by their laptop or phone. Plus, 64% have deleted their browsing history at some point and 53% have deleted a Slack or similar instant message so it can’t be seen by a boss.
Those working in finance, accounting and HR are the most likely to say they’ve hidden things from their bosses.
For workers working remotely, 60% of those surveyed said their employer would be upset with them if they tracked when and how much they work. Meanwhile, only 31% of in-person workers reported their employer would be upset. Additionally, men (58%) were more likely than women (44%) to say their employer would be disturbed by how little they’re working.
67% of all workers surveyed admitted that software to track their productivity would likely make them more productive.
The exponential rise in time spent working remotely will only make building trust and accountability in employer-employee relationships more vital. Additionally, HR managers should take note of the many thousands of queries being made in Google each month and look for ways to better answer these questions upfront.