More than half of workers in Germany find their job meaningless

More than half of workers in Germany find their job meaningless

German society is known for taking work and leisure seriously in equal measure. However, a recent YouGov poll has found that the number of people who find their job meaningless has seen a sharp increase in 2023.

Increasing number in Germany are dissatisfied with their job

The number of people working in Germany who see their jobs as meaningful has fallen to a new low. According to a poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of HDI, a German insurance company, just 47 percent of people employed in Germany said that they felt their current job was meaningful to them. The poll questioned 3.864 working people above the age of 15 across all German federal states.

The figure has both risen and fallen since pre-pandemic times. In 2019, 53 percent of people working in Germany said that they felt their job was meaningful. During the years heavily impacted by the spread of coronavirus, 2020 and 2021, the same figure rose to 61 and 62 percent respectively, before falling again to 58 percent in 2022 and then dipping under half to a mere 47 percent in 2023.

Meaningful work depends on employer support

The poll found that in 2023, there is a correlation between how meaningful people in Germany find their work to be and how well they feel they are supported by their boss or employer. 59 percent of people who said their work was meaningful to them also said that they felt supported by their employer. The same goes for people who believed that working remotely was effective, 48 percent of whom said that they felt supported by their boss.

Of course, Germany’s record-high worker shortage, which is currently affecting almost all sectors across the country, particularly the public sector, did not go unmentioned. Almost 60 percent of respondents said that they feel the effects of the nationwide worker shortage in their jobs. 35 percent said that they feared the consequences that stress caused by worsening staff shortages would have on their health and the working environment in the next three to five years. 

But the results of another recent poll, which found an 85 percent annual increase in the number of German workers off sick due to stress, suggest that these consequences are already making themselves apparent.

Four-day week and higher wages are the biggest motivators

So what does Germany’s workforce see as the answer to stressful, understaffed workplaces where remaining employees feel despondent? 46 percent said that raising wages would be a good start when it comes to attracting new employees and keeping them for longer. Only in August 2023 did workers in Germany see a real wage increase after two years of losses.

The introduction of a four-day week was also suggested by 30 percent of respondents as a way to fill vacancies. With Germany set to begin its largest-ever four-day working week pilot project, the model may seem like a more realistic prospect for many companies in the near future. 

The trial will run from February to December 2024 and be similar to that which took place in the UK in 2022, where 61 companies reduced their working hours to four days per week but maintained productivity levels and paid employees the same wage as during a five-day week. The UK results found a drop in absenteeism and employees quitting alongside an increase in revenue.

Thumb image credit: MAYA LAB /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



Leave a comment