Job Satisfaction

The vast majority of the working population is satisfied with their job, reports the Federal Statistical Office. But what does that even mean: satisfaction? And why is this reported before 1 May? It is smarter to look at the DGB index “Good Work”: It also paints a different picture of the opinions of employees about their jobs and the conditions under which they work.

A look at the fewer or dissatisfied employees: The federal statisticians give their overall share of 11 percent. In the east it is clearly higher than in the west. Those who pursue an academic profession or work in the executive floor are more likely to be “very satisfied” than those employed in manual occupations, in the operation of machines or among assistants.

Why the Federal Statistical Office is providing these figures “on the occasion of the International Labour Day on 1 May” could lead to the idea of empirically “demonstrating” a state of the world of work before the trade unions’ most important political symbolic date.

One might also ask oneself what that actually means to be satisfied with one’s work? According to the dictionary of meanings, satisfied people are those who are internally balanced, who demand nothing else than what they already have, or who agree with the given circumstances, performance and so on, i.e. who have nothing to complain about. This is what satisfied employees look like from the point of view of companies.

And from the point of view of the employees? Is it about having a job at all? Then satisfaction would merely be a measure of not having to stand outside the wage labour mill. Does satisfaction depend above all on income? What role do stress, design possibilities and health play? And how, for example, does the satisfaction described above fit in with the fact that 67 percent of employees recently stated in a DGB survey “that they also went to work in the previous year ‘although they felt really sick’? Only one third did not do this”?

The DGB-Indes “Gute Arbeit” (Good Work) makes it possible to deal with the question of how wage labour is treated in more detail. The detailed list of questions also makes it possible to illustrate contradictory views regarding one’s own job, for example when employees are satisfied with their income, but not with the stress or health burden associated with it. Special evaluations, for example on “work-related stress” or the consequences of intensification in the course of so-called digitisation, can also be found here.

For comparison with the figures of the federal statisticians, only a few highlights from the latest report: 16 percent do not identify at all with their job or identify little with it. 15 percent often or very often do unpaid work for the company outside their normal working hours. 28 percent state that their wage work requires them “to hide their feelings”. 48 percent say they often or very often feel “rushed to work or under time pressure”. 46 percent say that their income is not or only to a small extent appropriate to their performance.

How satisfied are the Germans with their profession?

On the whole, the Germans seem to be satisfied with their job, according to data from the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft in Cologne. 88 percent like their job.

The Indeed job search engine has looked to see whether there are certain professions that make people particularly happy. Many skilled trades are on the Top 20 list: Bricklayer, carpenter, gardener. But also professions that one would not necessarily have expected in the list, such as teachers and nurses. The list is led by trainers and managers.

Increasing workload and negative health impacts

The workload is perceived by the German respondents as very high in an international comparison. For example, 20 percent of doctors say that their workload is very difficult to cope with – this is the highest figure in a European comparison. In the case of nursing staff, 66 percent rate it as relatively difficult to cope with and are thus at the top of the European rankings.

Compared to the last study carried out in 2012, the burden has increased considerably, especially among nurses. As main reasons for the rather negative perception of their own workload, the respondents identify the increased number of patients compared to 2012 and the lack of employees.

The persistently high workload leads to negative effects on the health of German doctors and nursing staff. For example, 63 percent report suffering from the effects of work on physical health and 68 percent report negative effects on mental health. These are the second highest and highest values in Europe.

When are employees satisfied?

Whether an employee is satisfied depends largely on whether the workplace meets his or her individual expectations: Be it salary, flexible working hours or less workload.

The increasing need for a balance between work and everyday life also has an effect on job satisfaction. Anyone who is perhaps satisfied at work but hardly experiences any relaxation at home is more likely to take a negative attitude to the workplace. It is therefore particularly important not only to look for measures at the workplace itself that increase satisfaction. One should also take care of one’s satisfaction outside the workplace in order to create a healthy balance between professional and private life. In order to relieve yourself from stress and become more satisfied, you should consider, for example, doing more sports, taking more walks in the fresh air or relieving yourself by, for example, taking the strain off a domestic helper. This will guarantee you sufficient leisure time and thus sufficient strength and satisfaction for your daily work.

Promoting employee motivation

It is often the small things that increase the motivation and satisfaction of your employees:

Modern, ergonomic office furniture & attractive interior design
Office plants
Good coffee & free drinks
Workplace health promotion
Teamwork – people enjoy working together
Flexible working hours

It is also decisive whether an employee sees sense in his or her job. If a person finds his work meaningful, he is more motivated, more satisfied and more productive. Those who are creative, find their work interesting, receive praise and recognition, find meaning in their actions.

An equally positive effect on job satisfaction can be the social environment in the workplace. Those who feel comfortable in their team, are respected and valued regardless of their position and have the feeling of being able to address problems openly are more satisfied in principle.