In 100 years all fired up and then burned out – work as joy and stress in Germany
A hundred years ago, workers in Germany struggled in solidarity with each other for the introduction of the 8-hours day. Today, if one takes a look inside office towers in the evening, one often sees digital lone rangers sitting there, passionately producing emails, presentations or Excel tables into the night. Life has become work and vice-versa.
In addition to this heroic attitude towards gainful occupation, a discourse on stress is becoming increasingly evident – burn-out is stalking the performance-driven heroes of work. Precarious employment circumstances, blurring of the boundaries between job and home through modern communications media – it is not by chance that the underlying phenomena are appearing at the same time as an enormous emotionalisation of work.
How did it come about that in the past hundred years millions of strike-happy German workers turned into performance-driven personnel? And that today on career portals jobs are being advertised as “personal fulfilment” in firms and “fun on the job”?
Historian Sabine Donauer shows how in German history, companies have actively worked on their employees’ feelings in order to develop them into performance-driven and highly motivated workers. She likewise defines the price we pay for these positive feelings about work.