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September 2017
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TD Magazine
Learning, for When the Stress Ball Falls

How the training department can mitigate rising employee stress.

Stress is on the rise for U.S. workers, according to a new study from Udemy for Business—but employers are in a unique position to alleviate it.

The Workplace Stress Study, which surveyed more than 1,000 full-time office workers, found that 52 percent of employees overall are more stressed today than they were a year ago. However, Millennials are the most heavily affected group: Two-thirds of them are stressed at work most or all the time.

Where does that extra stress come from?

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While outside factors such as personal finances and the political climate are causes of concern, the workplace itself also is a factor. Both Millennials and Gen Xers said their top internal stressor is the fear of losing their jobs to automation or artificial intelligence. Baby Boomers said theirs is having a bad manager.

These issues are concerning, but there is a lot employers can do to mitigate them. The report recommends that companies focus on soft skills training, particularly for Millennials. Per the report, "Not only are these the very skills younger employees . . . need to move into those senior roles, they are also widely thought to be the areas that won't be easily automated or outsourced."

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That kind of training is in line with what employees want: supportive managers and learning opportunities.

Yet companies also must examine how they deliver training. While Baby Boomers usually prefer traditional classroom experience, more than one-third of Gen Xers and Millennials said they want on-demand, online learning content. Additionally, only 8 percent of respondents prefer internally created training content, wanting to choose from whom they learn.

Those kinds of learning preferences require "a level of personalization most L&D departments can't deliver on their own," according to the report. "Self-service platforms are gaining adoption among …companies that understand the benefits of putting control of learning in the hands of the learners themselves."

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About the Author
Caroline Coppel is an associate editor for ATD Press.
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