Udemy Research Finds Balance, Learning, & Mission are Key Drivers of Happiness and Meaning at Work

Company releases its first “Workplace Happiness Report”

SAN FRANCISCO – May 14, 2019 Udemy, the world’s largest destination for online courses, today released the company’s “2019 Workplace Happiness Report,” which found that feeling fulfilled at work is about achieving work-life balance and having better quality of life.

“The social contract between employer and employee has been upended, and the smartest companies have moved from a hierarchical, transactional relationship with employees to a collaborative partnership of mutual respect,” said Cara Brennan Allamano, SVP of Human Resources at Udemy. “Today, meeting employees’ personal needs and understanding their career goals are the best ways to foster a happy work environment where employees feel committed to meeting critical business goals.”

Balance matters most

Overall, employees’ search for quality of life drives their career choices and determines whether they find meaning in their work. More than a third of the U.S. workers surveyed (37%) ranked “work-life balance” as most essential to giving their work meaning, while only 14% said “contributing to the greater good” brings meaning to their work.

Mission is not a moot point

While quality-of-life factors are the greatest drivers of workplace meaning and happiness, company mission matters, too. Across all age groups, the majority of respondents agree that mission is both important and inspiring in the workplace. In addition:

  • 62% of employees would take a pay cut to work for a company with a mission they believe in.
  • 91% of employees whose employers run formal diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives believe they have a real impact in their workplace.
  • 90% agree or strongly agree that they find meaning in their careers.

Learning and mission matter most to millennials

Millennials stand out among the other age groups surveyed (Gen Z, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) in several respects. For them, professional development is more important than work-life balance (25% selected work-life balance, compared to 42% of Gen Z, 40% of Gen X, and 48% of Boomers). This emphasis on learning and growing in their roles could be because they love their jobs: 84% of them consider their current position to be their “dream job” (compared to 69% of total respondents).

Other millennial highlights:

  • Commute-averse: 70% of millennials would rather have a shorter commute to a less fulfilling job.
  • Living the dream: 64% of millennials strongly agree that their employers invest in their development; 62% are able to set their own schedules; 50% can work remotely.
  • Mission-driven: 78% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a company with a mission they believe in.


The research was conducted by Toluna Group on behalf of Udemy in March 2019 among more than 1,000 U.S. office workers in full-time jobs who are ages 18 or older. The complete methodology is available upon request.

About Udemy

With a mission to improve lives through learning, Udemy is the online learning destination that helps students, businesses, and governments gain the skills they need to compete in today’s economy. More than 30 million students are mastering new skills from expert instructors teaching over 100,000 online courses in topics from programming and data science to leadership and team building. For companies, Udemy for Business offers an employee training and development platform with subscription access to 3,000+ courses, learning analytics, as well as the ability to host and distribute their own content. Udemy for Government is designed to upskill workers and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. Udemy is privately owned and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Denver, Brazil, India, Ireland, and Turkey.