Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: The Happy Worker

Monday morning is a traumatic experience for millions of office workers around the world. Unless you’re one of the very lucky people who get to work in a field you love. Most of us have to suffer the idiocies, stupidities and inhumanities of working to live. Despite current initiatives such as trialling a four-day week, we are working longer hours than ever before. Normally without extra recompense. Conned by an idea that this will lead to happiness.

The Happy Worker challenges this belief. More and more people are suffering from burnout and approaching the precipice of a nervous breakdown. Stress levels are through the roof, not to mention the cost of living spiralling upwards while wages fall increasingly behind. Despite the respite of lockdown, when many realised that they wanted more from life, we’re being driven back to the office. This is the environment in which John Webster’s documentary exists.

The Happy Worker asks how we reached a point where real work is replaced by constant meaningless meetings and nonsensical empty rhetoric. Speaking to a number of experts (including activist David Graeber and a pioneer of burnout research Christina Maslach) and a group of executives, it becomes clear that the current system fosters a culture of silence and shame. The Happy Worker argues for a better, more meaningful, future.

The Happy Worker screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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