HR Management

Stress at Work Driven by Politics, AI, and the Pressure to Master New Skills

Workplace stress is on the rise, and American workers are actively addressing it by learning new skills, according to a Udemy report called “Workplace Confidential: The Real Story Behind Stress, Skills, and Success in America.”stress

The report was compiled using data from a recent Udemy survey. 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 1 year ago. Additionally, 58% of respondents 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.

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:

  • #1 stress trigger outside of work: The current political climate (50%)
  • # 1 stress trigger inside work: Fear of losing jobs to Artificial Intelligence (AI) 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 destress and position themselves for long-term success. A significant segment (42%) have even invested their own money in professional development. Workers say the #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%). Other findings include:

  • 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 not only to help reduce workplace stress but also improve productivity and business outcomes by adopting an employee-driven approach to learning and professional development.”