Today, I’m going to talk about 5 problems that people have had working in their own homes over the past two years. We’ll learn new vocabulary and discuss these ‘work-related problems’ just by listening to a friendly conversation in English. This type of English lesson is an excellent way to improve or keep you your English language listening skills in great shape.
For some people, being forced to work from home is fantastic, for others it’s been a nightmare. Today, as we listen and learn English, we talk about the problems some people have working from home. Do you have any of the problems I talk about in today’s podcast? Which group are you in?
This type of English listening practice improves your English comprehension skills. It’s a powerful way of speeding up your English language recall. The real magic is it is easy, interesting and you can do it while you're travelling to work or washing the dishes, and don’t forget it’s free.
You can find lots more English language listening lessons here, all with a transcript to help you if you need to look up any unfamiliar vocabulary or phrases being used.
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Have you found working difficult, during the last two years? Today, I’m going to talk about five ‘work related problems’ that people have struggled with during the pandemic, often while working from home. You’ll learn some more great vocabulary about work in this podcast. And because this is Adept English, you get to work on your English language understanding at the same time! Don’t forget there is a transcript - a written version of this podcast, as always, on our website at adeptenglish.com.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
If you’ve been affected by the pandemic and the changes this has meant to your life at work and your working habits, then listen on. There are some interesting statistics on what people have found difficult and you may be able to reflect on whether you’ve been affected too.
If you’re a new listener, congratulations you've found a great way to improve your English language skills with Adept English. Happy English Language Listening! And if you like this topic, let us know. I may make further podcasts on these five workplace difficulties and how to address them in the future.
Some interesting research was published last week by the Behavioural Insights Team at BUPA. If you haven’t heard of BUPA, that’s BUPA, they are a business based in the UK, who describe themselves as an ‘international health insurer and healthcare business’. They’re based in the UK, but they also operate in Australia, Spain, Chile, Egypt, Poland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico and the United States.
There’s a nice long list of country names for you to learn! I didn’t realise BUPA were so international - they basically sell private health insurance. If you’re interested in reading this research for yourself, I have included a link in the transcript.
And just in case you’re wondering about the phrase ‘behavioural insights team’ - then ‘behavioural’ just means ‘to do with people’s behaviour’. Companies are always trying to understand their customers’ behaviour - and that’s ‘how people act’ and what their motivation is. And the word ‘insight’, INSIGHT - that’s a noun - and an ‘insight’ is perhaps best described as a ‘piece of understanding that’s useful’.
Businesses and governments like to ‘gain insight’ into what motivates us all to behave in the ways that we do. So groups like BUPA’s Behavioural Insights Team are tasked with arriving at greater understanding of this. If you go to therapy, then probably part of what you’re looking for there, is ‘insight’ into your own thinking, feelings and behaviour. You want to better understand yourself - that’s ‘insight’.
Anyway, this team of behavioural researchers looked at Google searches to see what work difficulties were being searched on - and at which types of searches increased in 2021. So a ‘search’, SEARCH is a noun and is of course related to the verb ‘to search’. If you do a ‘search’ on Google or any of the other ‘search engines’, that means that you use certain words to see what’s on the internet about a particular topic, a subject if you like. And Google or other ‘search engines’ use complex algorithms to decide what information to present to you and in what order.
Anyway, this team found that there was a big increase in searches in 2021 on certain work-related problems. There was a 53% increase in Google searches for ‘chronic procrastination’ in 2021. There was a 50% increase in Google searches for ‘multitasking’, a 30% increase in Google searches for ‘workplace stress’, a 22% increase in Google searches for ‘signs of burnout at work’ and a 14% increase in Google searches for ‘decision fatigue’.
Let’s have a look at what those words mean. So a 53% increase in searches on ‘chronic procrastination’. Well, I’ve talked about ‘procrastination’ in podcast number 500, called ‘How to Beat the Procrastination Monster’ from just back at the start of 2022.
‘Procrastination’ is when you ‘put things off’, you delay doing them - and this causes you to get into difficulties. And the word ‘chronic’ means it ‘happens over time’, from the Greek ‘chronos’ meaning ‘time’.
A woman home working with her daughter interrupting. Today’s English listening practice is all about how millions of people work differently and why it matters in our lives.
If something is ‘chronic’, it goes on over a long period. We use the word ‘chronic’ of illnesses. The opposite is ‘acute’, ACUTE - and that means ‘it’s happening all at once, right now’. That’s a big increase, 53% more people searched ‘chronic procrastination’ in 2021.
Procrastination is a really bad habit and it interferes with people’s chances of being successful in life. So listen to podcast 500 - it’s really recent. It contains useful tips and advice about this very problem. And it’s a very common problem to have. I find that students particularly, especially really clever students suffer with procrastination.
There was also a 50% increase in searches for ‘multitasking’. The verb ‘to multitask’, MULTITASK means ‘to do lots of things at the same time’. ‘Multitasking’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself. We all do this, I’m sure! You might be on the phone, cooking dinner, making a cup of tea at the same time, while keeping an eye on your toddler or your dog!
We’re often expected to multitask at work. But for there to be such an increase in people searching on this term, these words in Google, you might think that people are feeling under more pressure to ‘multitask’ at work and are struggling with this, or finding it a problem - and looking online for answers.
Just pausing a minute to remind you that if you want to ‘have some challenges’ in understanding English conversation and practise your understanding of English conversation, then our Course One, Activate Your Listening is just the right course for you. It’s a step up from the Most Common 500 Words Course, if you’ve done that.
And it gives you some useful vocabulary on the UK, food and education. Topics which are common to us all. So go to our website at adeptenglish.com and have a look at Course One, Activate Your Listening for some practice in English conversation with two speakers - not just me!
Back to our topic for today. There was also a 30% increase in people googling ‘workplace stress’ - a clearer sign perhaps of a more widespread problem. ‘Workplace’, WORKPLACE - (‘compound word’!) - that’s being used here as an adjective - meaning ‘to do with your place of work’. And the word ‘stress’, STRESS means ‘pressure’. If you’re under ‘stress’, then you’re feeling pressured in a way that’s not helpful, that’s perhaps making you feel bad or is affecting your performance.
So yes, a 30% increase in searches on ‘workplace stress’. And similarly, a 22% increase in searches on ‘signs of burnout at work’. This seems like a reliable indicator that people are in difficulties. The term ‘burnout’, BURNOUT. And it’s both a noun and a verb. It refers to that state that sometimes people arrive at, where they are so overworked, they’ve worked so much and they’re so stressed that they just cannot work any more and may need to take time off sick or even change their career, because of burnout. Burnout is a serious problem - I often see people in my therapy practice because they have ‘workplace burnout’.
And lastly, the researchers found that there was a 14% increase in searches on ‘decision fatigue’? Well, less significant, 14% - but what does ‘decision fatigue’ mean? Well, ‘fatigue’, FATIGUE means ‘tiredness’ - and ‘decision fatigue’ reflects the idea that if we’re asked to make too many decisions, we ‘run out of steam’, we just can’t do it any more! We get ‘fatigued with making decisions’. Or we make poorer choices, poorer decisions.
I’m amused by the idea that people in positions with very high levels of responsibility in business, like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, now deceased of course, manage the problem of ‘decision fatigue’ by reducing their clothing to limited choices! They reduce the number of decisions they have to make in a day! Steve Jobs, the high flying co-founder of Apple, famously wore the same clothes all the time, never changing his look or his style.
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It would be a black turtle neck jumper, Levi 501 jeans, and New Balance trainers. For him, there were never decisions to make in the morning about what to wear - he could save his ‘decision making energy’ for things that mattered at work! And Mark Zuckerberg - founder of Facebook - what is his automatic choice of clothing to avoid ‘decision fatigue’? Well, there’s a famous photograph of his closet, where his clothes hang. Full of grey T shirts and grey hoodies. Each to their own perhaps - but evidence also that even tech billionaires need to take action to protect themselves against ‘decision fatigue’!
There is some really useful vocabulary for you in this podcast - and interesting listening, I hope. As I mentioned, I’ve already covered procrastination in a previous podcast, but if you like, I can take the ideas from this podcast and make further podcasts and talk about how you might address these other problems - ‘workplace stress’, ‘multitasking’, ‘burnout’ and ‘decision fatigue’.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com