Germans prefer contentment to career and money

The vast majority of Germans say that having a good working environment and a secure job is much more important to them than more money or the chance of getting ahead in a career, a survey has found.

Germans prefer contentment to career and money
Most Germans aren't too anxious to move onwards and upwards out of the cubicle farm. Photo: DPA

More than three-quarters of Germans – 76 percent – said that they thought having a good working environment was more important than a high salary.

Meanwhile, 93 percent of people surveyed in the YouGov poll said that they agreed with the sentence “I work to live” – with a correspondingly tiny number saying they “lived to work”.

That might well be an influence on Germans' preference for job security over high salaries and far-off dreams of success.

A staggering 90 percent of people thought it was more important to have a secure job than to have opportunities to move onward and upward in their career.

Younger Germans were a little more ambitious than their older compatriots, with 22 percent of people aged 18-34 saying that career advancement was more important than security – compared with just two percent of over-55s.

Security doesn't mean no ambition

But the pollsters warned that we shouldn't rush to judge Germans as unambitious.

“I think it's healthy for people to think that the working atmosphere is more important than a high salary,” YouGov board member Holger Geißler told The Local. “We hear a lot about people having to take sick leave because of burnout.”

But he added that the results might suggest that German employees are getting a little too comfortable in their jobs.

“We could ask whether German employees really feel the pressure” to go the extra mile at work, Geißler said.

That willingness to go a little above and beyond could be key to keeping up with other nations as the global economy forges on in a time of ever-faster change.

“German employess have a lot of virtues, things that make us very different from other nations,” Geißler said.

“Germans have a good image of being dependable, honest, of being able to tackle new challenges. When things need to get done, then they get done. People stick to the rules – whether that's positive or negative.”

But flexibility is important too – and Geißler acknowledged that while Germany has found a secure place in the global economy for now, workers in other nations might be more ready to adapt than Germans in future.

Most Germans happy with work

The good news is that most Germans felt that their hopes were fulfilled.

Some 77 percent of people said that the environment at their workplace was “good”, “very good” or “excellent”.

Meanwhile, 60 percent of the respondents put the same labels on their work-life balance.

One difference the pollsters found was that public-sector workers were more satisfied with their work-life balance than those in private companies.

But private-sector workers were marginally more ambitious than their counterparts in public service, with twice as many (11 percent versus six percent) saying they would choose career over job security.

The YouGov poll was based on a survey of a representative sample of 519 non-management employees between January 5th and 11th.

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Reader question: Why haven’t I received my €300 payment yet in Germany?

Many working people in Germany will have received their energy relief payment by now. But if you haven’t got yours yet, there’s no need to worry, here are some reasons why that could be and what you can do.

Reader question: Why haven’t I received my €300 payment yet in Germany?

The €300 payment – known as the Energiepreispauschale or EPP – is one of the German coalition government’s relief measures intended to help people with rising energy costs. It goes out to everyone who lives and works in Germany, including those in part-time and temporary employment, trainees and students in paid internships as well as freelancers.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €300 energy relief payout

Those who have already received the payment as part of their September pay packet will have had an item on their pay slip marked as sonstiger Bezug (“other remuneration”) or “E” for Einmalbezug (“one-time payment“).

The EPP is subject to payroll tax, so only those who earn below the basic tax-free allowance (that means they don’t earn enough to pay any tax) will benefit from the full amount.

According to the Ministry of Finance, employees will receive on average €193 from the €300 allowance.

However, if the EPP didn‘t appear on your pay slip in September, here are a couple of reasons why that could be:

You have a mini-job

Mini-jobbers need to make clear to their employers that their mini-job is their main means of income, as often a mini-job is carried out alongside another job. If you haven’t received your €300 payment yet it’s best to discuss this with your employer and to confirm that it is your main job in writing.

A waiter carries a tray with used glasses and empty bottles. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

Your employer is not required to make the payment

There are some cases where the flat-rate energy allowance is not paid out by the employer at all. The Federal Ministry of Finance mentions the following exceptions, for example: if the employer is not required to file income tax returns, or the employee is employed on a short-term basis or is a temporary worker in agriculture and forestry.

In these cases, you have to file an income tax return for 2022 and claim the EPP there.

The payment may come later

The Ministry of Finance says that, if an employer misses the payment “for organisational or accounting reasons,” for example if you started your job in August and the payroll department missed you out, then the payment can be made later.

At the latest, however, it should come when the employer sends the Lohnsteuerbescheinigung (wage tax statement) – which is usually sent in December. In this case, too, it’s advisable to clarify with your employer or the payroll department why you haven’t received the payment yet. 

You work for a small company

Sometimes employers are not obliged to pay out the energy flat rate in September, but can still do so in October. This is the case if the employer submits its payroll tax returns to the tax office on a quarterly rather than monthly. Smaller employers, for example, who pay less than €5,000 in advance wage tax per year, only have to submit the advance wage tax payment once a quarter. This is not due until October 10th, so the employees concerned will not receive the €300 lump sum until October.

What other support will people get from the German government?

On Tuesday, Germany’s 16 state leaders are meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss which measures the €200 billion package announced last week should include.

READ ALSO: Germany to thrash out details of €200 billion energy support package

It’s expected that a Gaspreisdeckel – or a cap on the price of gas households would pay this winter – will soon come into force when the details are worked out, while plans for a cheap follow-up to the popular €9 ticket will also be presented later this month.

Benefit payment recipients will receive a one-off top-up to their existing benefit payments to pay for the higher cost of heating and pensioners will receive a €300 payment on December 1st. They do not have to apply for this, it’ll simply be added to the payments they receive from their pension insurance funds.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Everything Germany is doing to help relieve rising energy costs

A €200 one-off payment is also planned for students, although each federal state may end up paying the amount slightly differently in a process that’s still being defined.

From next year, parents will see an increase in the amount of child benefit (Kindergeld) they receive, up to €237 per month, per child, up to and including the third child.