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Germans like going to work

Press Release of August 6, 2015

Only one in eight people complain about their job – temporary workers and job-seekers in part-time employment are least satisfied – satisfaction strongly depends on personal characteristics and feelings.

The mood of the German labor market continues to be positive, so it is not at all surprising that the attitude of the German workforce is, too. A new study by DIW Berlin reveals that the vast majority of workers are satisfied with their jobs. Interestingly, this attitude is independent of the general economic situation. “People do not experience greater job satisfaction in difficult economic times just because they are happy to have work,” says Karl Brenke, labor market expert at DIW Berlin. “Conversely, they are not automatically harder to please when evaluating their jobs in periods of economic expansion.” The study is based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) that was collected by the survey institute TNS Infratest Sozialforschung on behalf of DIW Berlin and covers the years up to 2013.

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) is one of the leading economic research institutions in Germany. Its core mandates are applied economic research and economic policy advice as well as provision of research infrastructure. As an independent non-profit institution, DIW Berlin is committed to serving the common good. The institute was founded in 1925 as Institut für Konjunkturforschung (Institute for economic cycle research). Since 1982, the Research Infrastructure SOEP (German Socio-Economic Panel Study), a long-term study, is affiliated to DIW Berlin. The institute has been headquartered in Berlin since its founding. As a member of the Leibniz Society, DIW Berlin is predominantly publicly funded.

Dissatisfied workers change jobs more frequently

In 2013, only one in eight workers reported moderate to strong job dissatisfaction. Prominent among them were temporary workers and as unemployed registered part-time workers (up to 15 hours per week). “It’s probably true of temporary workers –just as it is of registered job-seekers doing minor paid work – that a considerable number of them wish they had better job opportunities,” explains labor market expert Mr. Brenke. Indeed, between 2010 and 2013, dissatisfied workers changed jobs more often than those who had nothing to complain about. Most of them later said that they were more satisfied in their new job. However, this was also true of some of the employees who were dissatisfied but did not look for new work. “Presumably many of them come to terms with their situation,” concluded Mr. Brenke.

Personal characteristics affect job satisfaction

Personality is among the factors that have a measurable effect on job satisfaction. A relatively large percentage of people of those who are dissatisfied say that they are often afraid or frequently upset, relatively rarely feel happy, or state that they are less optimistic about the future. Another factor determining people's degree of job satisfaction is the extent to which they feel they are being fairly compensated for their work. But even among individuals who received a gross hourly wage of less than 8.50 euros (the current minimum wage), only one in eight were dissatisfied with their job.

No differences between eastern and western Germany

While job satisfaction in the early 1990s, the time of the social and economic transformation in the area of the former GDR, was considerably lower in eastern than in western Germany, there is no evidence of a comparable gap today. “There are virtually no differences in the degree of job satisfaction between the sexes, between people in western and eastern Germany, or between different age groups,” says Mr. Brenke. Similarly, there are also no substantial differences with respect to the qualifications required for the job, or whether people have to work nights or weekends. Job satisfaction levels in Germany, it is revealed in the study, have remained almost unchanged for 20 years.