Germany is the leading economic engine in the EU and is one of the top economies in the world. Apart from being famous for its cars and beers, Germans are considered as hardworking and highly productive people. How does that happen when the average workweek is 35 hours and on top of that Germans have 25 paid vacation days on average per year? Let’s see what it means to work like a German.
- Working Hours Mean Working Hours. In German business culture, there is zero tolerance towards employees who do something else other than their work such as checking Facebook, reading personal email or chatting with colleagues about personal plans after work.
- Goal-Oriented, Direct Communication Is Valued. The German business culture values the direct communication. While an American employee would say, “It would be great if you could get this to me by 3pm,” a German employee would say, “I need this by 3pm”, so Germans tend to skip the polite phrases. They also tend to speak directly to the Manager about any reports or while in a meeting without any “icebreakers”. Throughout work, Germans are focused and diligent – this results in a higher productivity for a shorter period of time.
- Germans Have a Life Outside Work. There is a clear separation between work and private life. When Germans are at work, they work. When they are not at work, they commit to their hobbies. The German society is highly organised. It is not common colleagues to hang out together after work just because they are colleagues. What is common is to have organised clubs based on common interest such as various sports clubs, choirs, hiking clubs, music clubs and others and in these clubs Germans socialize with other people who have the same interests. While the German law requires the paid vacation for an employee per year to be 20 days, but many Germans on average have 25 to 30 paid vacation days and this allows them to spend almost a month together with their family and this allows them to have a good work-life balance.
- Business Respects Parenthood. Germany has one of the best parental leave systems in the world. Parents who have been employed for the past 12 months are eligible for the benefits of the system, which include up to three years with unpaid leave with a “sleeping” contract and parents may choose to postpone up to one year of their live until the child’s 8th birthday. The state pays 67% of the employee’s salary for a period of 14 months with a cap of 1800 Euros per month. Parents may split the 14 months the way they want.
- Put Some German in Your Office. There are lessons from the German business culture we can all learn and apply whenever possible. Being focused and diligent at work is something to be admired at. Separating private life from work contributes to a better work-life balance, recreation and increased productivity while at work. Being focused on work and only work while at the office, is something that makes it possible to be highly productive while spending less hours at work. Skipping Facebook and turning off the push notifications is something that helps the office to be quiet and it’s easy for everybody to stay focused while working. Direct communication helps to get straight to the point and increases clarity among team members.
Do you still believe that working longer hours means increased productivity?