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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

Germans prefer contentment to career and money

Published on: 19 Jan 2016 11:25 CET

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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.

The Local(news@thelocal.de)

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