Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees

Jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor has published a list of the top 10 German companies whose employees have the largest median income.

Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees
Photo: DPA

Heading up Glassdoor's list is consultancy firm Roland Berger, in joint first place with industrial group Siemens. The median income of employees from both of these companies is a massive €80,720 per annum.

The term “income” takes into account a) the basic salary, b) any bonuses and c) any other personal remunerations, over the course of one year.

So which companies offer the highest salaries? Here’s Glassdoor's list of each company and the median income that their employees receive.

  1. Roland Berger: Median income – €80,720. Sector: consultancy

  2. Siemens: Median income – €80,720. Sector: industry

  3. BASF: Median income  – €76,684. Sector: industry

  4. Robert Bosch: Median income – €75,675. Sector: industry

  5. Bayer AG: Median income – €70,630. Sector: industry

  6. Commerzbank: Median income – €70,630. Sector: banking

  7. Daimler: Median income – €70,630. Sector: automobile industry

  8. Deutsche Bank: Median income – €70,630. Sector: banking

  9. Continental: Median income – €65,585. Sector: automobile industry/supply industry

  10. SAP: Median income – €65,000. Sector: technology

Traditional German companies pay better salaries

The results indicated that companies with a long-standing tradition in Germany tend to shell out more for salaries.

Each business in the top 10 list has its head office in Germany.

So if you want to strike it rich, German-based companies are the place to work.  

Skilled workers are “important”

“An important factor for higher salaries is the development of technology combined with skills which are in high demand,” Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist at Glassdoor, told the Berliner Zeitung. “Economists often mention the “Superstar-Effect” with regards to this link,” he added.

Chamberlain went on to state, “Competent workers are important for the continued success of a company.”
For businesses which are looking to develop their global profile, it is important that employees are highly qualified. “But in this case, the demand is obviously larger than the supply”, Chamberlain said.

Therefore, two things are essential if the demand is to be satisfied, according to Chamberlain. Firstly, highly qualified workers must be remunerated accordingly. Secondly, potential applicants must be offered a reasonable salary in the recruitment process.

Higher stress equals higher pay

Chamberlain maintains that in the banking sector in particular, stress levels are often “particularly high”.

“Long working hours coupled with stress and high risks lead to employees receiving higher salaries,” he went on to state.

Need for greater transparency about salaries

Most people are completely in the dark about how much their colleagues earn – it’s still a taboo topic of conversation.

Only 4 out of 10 German employees know how much their co-workers are paid, of whom only 50% found the information out from the co-workers themselves, a study undertaken by Glassdoor has shown.

Due to this lack of openness, 6 out of 10 German employees think that companies should be required to be more transparent about salaries.

Despite this, 72% of Germans are reluctant to talk about their own salary to other people.

However, 45% would be willing to share information about their earnings, if it was completely anonymous.

Information about results

Glassdoor’s results are based on salary information for the period between July 1st 2014 and June 30th 2016.

Companies that were included were those who published information about 20 of their German employees’ salaries in this time period.

When calculating the total salary of an employee, the firms had to take into account the employee's basic salary as well as other forms of remuneration.

The data provided is the median yearly salary of employees from each company.

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Reader question: Is it ever legally too hot to work from home in Germany?

Germany has regulations on working during a heatwave - but does that also apply to people who work remotely? We take a look.

Reader question: Is it ever legally too hot to work from home in Germany?

The number of people working from home shot up during the Covid pandemic, and though employees no longer have the right to work remotely by law, many have chosen to stick with more flexible arrangements and set up a home office at least part of the week.

This is great news for people who enjoy a lie-in more than a long commute, but there are some downsides. One major issue is that it’s not always clear how Germany’s strict employee protection rules actually apply in a home setting. The rules for working during a heatwave are a good example of this.

How does Germany regulate working in extreme heat? 

By law in Germany, employers are responsible for creating a safe environment for their workers. This means that they should try and keep the temperature below 26C at all times and are legally obliged to take action if the temperature goes above 30C. 

That could include putting blinds on the windows to prevent the glare of the sun, installing air conditioning systems or purchasing fans. In some cases – such as outdoor manual labour – it could also involve starting and finishing earlier in the day. 

And in really high temperatures, employers may simply decide to call the whole thing off and give their employees a ‘hitzefrei’ day – basically a heat-induced day off – to go and cool down in a lake. However, business owners are generally given free rein to decide how hot is too hot in this instance (except in the case of vulnerable workers). 

READ ALSO: Hitzefrei: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Do the heat rules apply to ‘home office?’

Unfortunately not. In most cases in Germany, the company isn’t directly involved in setting up the workspace for an employee that works from home, aside from possibly providing a laptop or phone for remote use. 

“The occupational health and safety regulations regarding room temperature do not apply in this case,” labour law expert Meike Brecklinghaus told German business publication T3N. “This is because the employer does not have direct access to the employee’s workplace and in this respect cannot take remedial action.”

That means that on hot days, it’s the employee’s own responsibility to make sure the environment is suitable for working in. 

woman works from home in Germany

A woman works in her living room at home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Naupold

One duty employers do have, however, is to instruct their workers about the best way to set up a healthy work environment at home, for example by giving guidance on how to regulate the temperature. 

“In the end, it is the employee’s responsibility to maintain his or her workplace in a condition in which he or she can perform his or her work without the threat of health impairments,” Brecklinghaus explained.

What can home office workers do in hot weather?

There are plenty of ways to keep flats cooler in the summer months, including purchasing your own fan, keeping curtains or blinds drawn and ventilating the rooms in the evening or early morning when the weather is cooler.

However, if heat is really becoming a problem, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your employer. This is especially important if you have a health condition that makes it more dangerous to work in hot weather. 

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate for the employer to pay for the purchase of a fan or mobile air conditioner as goodwill gesture. If possible, you could also arrange to travel to the office where the temperature should be better regulated.

Another option for early birds or night owls is to arrange more flexible working hours so you can avoid sweltering at your desk in the midday sun, although this of course depends on operational factors. 

READ ASO: Jobs in Germany: Should foreign workers join a union?