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Are Germans Really Unhappy With Work?

An international study by the Gallup Organization shows Germans are unsatisfied with their work. Some DW-WORLD readers found this hard to believe.

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Only 12 percent of Germans are happy with their work.

In mid-January, the American-based Gallop organization published results from a long-term study on job satisfaction. It showed that only 12 percent of Germans have a strong emotional attachment to their jobs and workplace; 70 percent say they’re just going through the motions; and 18 percent have, psychologically at least, already quit.

Compared internationally, Germans rank fairly low on the list. Americans lead the way in job satisfaction, with 30 percent of U.S. respondents saying they feel a strong attachment to their jobs. Other leading nations were Canada with 24 percent, Israel (20), Australia (18), and Great Britain (17). Nations with fewer people expressing job satisfaction than Germany include Japan, where only 9 percent said they liked their job, France (6) and Singapore (4).

In e-mails sent to our online staff, DW-WORLD readers questioned both the accuracy of the study and the reason behind Germans’ negative view of work. Here’s what they said:

"I wonder how accurate the poll really is. During the morning rush hour, you should take a look at the expressions on the commuters faces. There is an ever increasing feeling that we are only working to pay our bills. I hear the same feelings from the single people as well as married couples within the middle class. I wonder if the middle class in Germany is facing similar issues."

-- Yong-ei Kwon, New York.

"The Gallup poll, as is usual with things from America, is superficial in the extreme. Doesn’t it seem more than a little suspicious that Americans, British, Israelis and Canadians top the list which just happens to be conducted by an American company?
As a statistician, I am well aware of how easy it is to use statistics to substantially misrepresent situations. I have lived in the U.S. my entire life and have NEVER met anyone who was satisfied with his/her job. Other polls have indicated much lower satisfaction with work in this country. This is obviously a poll designed for a predetermined outcome – probably to make the American way of business look good.
Do you really believe Americans are happy with the excessive job insecurity here? With the need to work two jobs in order to survive? With little or no health insurance? With no vacation time for many and a maximum of two weeks for the most?
I don’t know why Germans are always so willing to think that everyone else is ‘better’ than them. Germans in general have a much stronger sense of fairness than Americans. The universal health coverage, the longer vacation time, the more generous unemployment compensation and retirement benefits are a reflection of that.
Maybe this questionable ‘poll’ is just propaganda to excuse the so-called labor reforms. All I can say is that the more you become like Americans, the more miserable you will be."

-- Joyce Huesemann, U.S.

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