U.S. Study Reveals Rising Stress at Work Driven by Politics, Artificial Intelligence and Pressure to Master New Skills

Udemy Report Shows U.S. Workforce Prioritizing Professional Development, New Skills Acquisition, and Increased Mindfulness to Alleviate Stress and Achieve Success

SAN FRANCISCO — June 6, 2017 — Workplace stress is on the rise, and American workers are actively addressing it by learning new skills, according to a Udemy report released today calledWorkplace Confidential: The Real Story Behind Stress, Skills, and Success in America.” The survey, conducted on behalf of the global marketplace for learning and teaching online, found more than half (52%) of full-time employees in America feel more stressed today than they did one year ago. Additionally, 58% turn to company-sponsored skills training to combat this epidemic.

“Workplace stress has reached unprecedented levels in America, with a unique confluence of internal and external triggers–from a volatile political climate to the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. At the same time, the skills required to do our jobs change about every three months, and pressure to adapt is relentless. This study shows that workers are responding to stress with a new self-driven approach centered around learning and growth,” says Darren Shimkus, vice president and general manager for Udemy for Business, a curated learning platform that helps enterprises continuously upskill their workforce and foster a culture of learning. The platform has 2,000+ high-quality courses taught by the world’s leading experts that cover a wide range of topics from programming and design to leadership and stress management.

New Stressors Impact the Workforce

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of U.S. workers are stressed all or most of the time at work because of the following elements:

  • No. 1 stress trigger outside of work: The current political climate (50%)
  • No. 1 stress trigger inside work: Fear of losing jobs to artificial intelligence or new technology (43%)

Other top-ranking stressors include the pressure to master new skills quickly to keep up with changing job responsibilities (52%) and feeling under-skilled for the job (42%). Generationally, millennials and Gen Z are the most stressed at work today, with 64% feeling stressed all or most of the time at work.

Employees Proactively Learn New Skills to Combat Workplace Stress

American workers are looking to acquire new skills on their own time or through company-sponsored programs to de-stress and position themselves for long-term success. A significant segment (42%) have even invested their own money in professional development. Workers say the No. 1 form of stress relief they use today is company-provided training and professional development programs (58%), followed by meditation and/or physical activity (54%).

  • 57% ranked opportunities to learn and grow as one of the most important aspects of workplace culture.
  • 54% of millennials and Gen Z employees prioritized more personalized, one-on-one coaching as their preferred form of learning.
  • 48% think investing more in professional development is one of the most impactful things their company can do to alleviate stress.     
  • 47% say they would like to see their company provide on-demand learning opportunities.

Employees are getting in the driver’s seat of their training and careers to combat stress and find professional success,” said Shimkus. “Businesses have a significant opportunity to not only help reduce workplace stress but also improve productivity and business outcomes by adopting an employee-driven approach to learning and professional development.”

An infographic of the data is available here.


This online survey was conducted by Toluna Group on behalf of Udemy in April 2017 among 1,000+ U.S. office workers in full-time jobs who are ages 18 or older. Complete survey methodology available upon request.

About Udemy

Udemy was founded in 2010 with the aim of improving lives through learning. Udemy is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online where more than 15 million students learn from an extensive library of 45,000 courses taught by expert instructors in 80 different languages. Whether learning for professional development or personal enrichment, students can master new skills through self-paced, on-demand courses, while instructors have a way to share their knowledge with the world. For companies, Udemy for Business offers subscription access to a collection of business-relevant courses as well as a simple platform to host and distribute their own content in one central place. Udemy is privately owned and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Ireland and Turkey.