How i work hard in life

Change in the world of work : Do less, live more

It is a dangerous promise: Those who achieve a lot will be rewarded and valued with money. But what should hard-working cleaning ladies think who hardly get anything for their work? What caregivers? Or midwives? Are you not doing an important job? Do you have no reason to go home proudly in the evening?

In today's everyday understanding, performance is synonymous with gainful employment and an essential criterion for different wages. This thinking is increasingly criticized: by non-academics, because origin still strongly determines what becomes of someone. From postmen who read that the post manager earns 232 times as much as they do every day. Of pensioners who stand in line at the soup kitchen even though they have toiled all their lives. The promise of performance leads either to disappointment or to complete exhaustion. It is visibly crumbling.

The historian Nina Verheyen from the University of Cologne has published the book entitled “The Invention of Performance” this year. In it she writes: "Every achievement society produces injustices and grief." How true, psychologists will think: The feeling that you are only worth something if you are successful, for this reason, is the reason for a number of therapies in this country.

First question: What do you do for a living?

The idea of ​​individual performance as it exists in people's minds today only emerged in the 19th century. Before that, bourgeois men had placed value on their work, but also on education, sociability, charity and the family. The ideal was a “whole person” - and not one who only defines himself through his job. The first small talk question these days is usually: What do you do for a living?

First of all, the change had a good core back then, as it wanted to link status and income to performance rather than to ancestry. That should increase productivity and make society more equitable. In the course of industrialization, however, the image arose that the human body was also a motor and accordingly performed - defined as work per time. One began to precisely measure the results of the individual and to compare them with those of others, for example with school grades and first intelligence tests. But even in the German Empire it was discussed whether the school grade printing did not make you sick.

"But there is no such thing as an individual performance in the quasi-physical sense," criticizes Verheyen. Among other things, the social environment is decisive: Have the parents strengthened the character? Does the boss motivate or frustrate? In addition, it always depends on who judges someone else's ability and by what standards. Regarding the present, the historian says: "We live in the age of performance and performance criticism."

If the philosopher Richard David Precht is right in his interviews, it will soon be over. His thesis is: Because of digitization, many jobs will disappear. Overall, people would work less or not at all. That is why it should be slowly considered now what will make up people in the future when work becomes less important.

Young people want to live differently

In addition, the younger generation wants to live differently. Her parents and grandparents still lived to work because of their socialization. It was security instead of self-realization. Many young people today think the other way around. Every second employee would like to spend less time in the office, for example. The desire is a 35-hour week, as a current study by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows - even for less money. Some companies advertise for good employees with more freedom and free time. The sabbatical, it is said, has become the new company car.

This need is also at stake in the labor laws passed this year, such as the legal right to part-time bridge work. "Work that fits in with life - that is a decisive value for more and more people and an essential goal for me," says Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). This is also due to the social development that women and men are employed, and no longer just the man, while the woman takes care of the children and the household at home. But it is also due to too much stress and permanent optimization - even of sleep - and the desire to divide the life span more evenly. Some may call this a luxury attitude, others an urgent necessity.

The numerus clausus is called into question. In addition to grades, emotional skills count more and more. Fathers who take longer time off with their families are role models. More and more managers want to see good results rather than sitting around for too long in the evening. Something is changing. Marcel Fratzscher, President of the German Institute for Economic Research, also sees potential for conflict in “how we as a society define performance”. Some would still equate them with high incomes and demand relief for the higher-income earners. "More and more people no longer define performance in terms of money, but in terms of social contribution and solidarity," he says. This conflict divides the country. "We therefore urgently need a stronger debate on this important issue."

Verheyen does not demonize the concept of performance per se either. Compared to origin or attitude, it is still the best category of order for togetherness. But she, too, pleads for a more social understanding. That someone is caring, caring for other people should be of greater value again.

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