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Bullying, pregnancy and affairs among the most searched-for workplace queries

Abigail Fenton
Somebody typing Google into an address bar. Photo: Jaap Arriens/SIPA USA/PA Images
Somebody typing Google into an address bar. Photo: Jaap Arriens/SIPA USA/PA Images

Bullying, pregnancy and leaving their company are the most common topics UK workers search for when googling questions about their boss.

Research by Viking Direct, which looked at the most searched for terms about managers, colleagues and workplaces, also found employees are turning to online searches to find out what to do if they fancy a colleague and how to deal with complaints and conflicts with their co-workers.

One of the top terms with 170 searches per month was “can my boss watch me on CCTV from home”, while “how to kill your boss” and “does my boss fancy me” both came in at 140 searches a month.

READ MORE: How to talk to your boss about work-related stress

What’s more, 140 people searched for “how to tell your boss you’re pregnant”, and 90 workers a month ask, “can I sue my boss for emotional distress”.

On a slightly less serious note, 10 people every month search for “do I have to invite my boss to my wedding”.

Boss searches were encouraging overall though, with 76% of them possessing positive sentiment.

Top keywords Brits search for about their boss

  1. Bully

  2. Pregnant

  3. Leaving

  4. Raise

  5. Fire

  6. Hate

  7. Romantically

  8. Complain

  9. Affair

  10. Crush

  11. Fancy

  12. Maternity

  13. Notice

  14. Sex

When it came to colleagues, office politics dominated, with “how to resolve conflict with a colleague” and “how to work with a colleague who undermines you” both searched for on 50 occasions a month. Meanwhile, 30 people searched for “can I refuse to work with a colleague”.

Surprisingly, UK workers were less positive overall about their colleagues than bosses, with only 59% of searches backed by positive sentiment.

Mature businesswoman sitting at cafe looking at her cell phone while working on laptop computer. Woman reading text message at coffee shop.
Photo: Getty

Most common terms googled about colleagues

  1. Like

  2. Complaint

  3. Crush

  4. Fancy

  5. Complain

  6. Hate

  7. Conflict

  8. Attract

Viking also measured the sentiment behind searches based around employees’ thoughts about their work or workplace. Interestingly, this was revealed to have the most negative sentiment, with only 45% positive and 31% negative – twice as high as that for bosses and colleagues.

Bob Huiber at Viking Direct said: “It’s really interesting to see the wide range of questions that office workers are turning to search engines to find the answers to. While office gossip used to be restricted to the water cooler, it seems we’re eager to ask Google about burgeoning workplace romances.

“From a more serious perspective, there were some more significant and extremely important topics being googled, showing UK employees have a greater appetite than ever for improving their HR and employment law knowledge and are likely to avoid the traditional route of speaking to a manager or HR department. With all the resources now available to us online, this can only be seen as a positive, empowering shift.”

READ MORE: How to forget about work when the workday is finished