Employees on Kurzarbeit are happy and satisfied, new survey finds

Employees on Kurzarbeit are happy and satisfied, new survey finds

Employees on Kurzarbeit are happy and satisfied, new survey finds

You would think that being put on limited working hours and taking a reduced salary - in the midst of a global pandemic and with a financial crisis looming - would be a cause for concern for most people. In actual fact, many people in Germany who have been put on short-time working (Kurzarbeit) over the past few months have overall found the experience to be a positive one. 

Kurzarbeit employees rate experience as “overall valuable”

It may be a scheme with negative connotations - an emergency measure to help cash-strapped companies weather the lean months - but the majority of people working in Germany who have been affected by Kurzarbeit over the past year perceive it not as concerning, but surprisingly positive. 

This is the result of a representative survey of more than 3.600 employed people, which was undertaken by market research company YouGov in the months of June and July 2020 on behalf of HDI, an insurance company. According to the responses they received, 43 percent of those who were affected by Kurzarbeit this year experienced the time as “overall valuable”. 

In contrast, only around half as many people (24 percent) found their experience to be “overall stressful”. 25 percent of Kurzarbeiters said that they had begun to experience “existential fears”, while 18 percent said that they now had a better relationship with their family, compared to just seven percent who said that familial relationships had been strained. 12,5 percent of respondents said that “nothing has changed”. 

People perceive short-time working as an effective safety net

The coronavirus crisis has made short-time working a mass phenomenon in Germany. According to calculations by the Institute for Employment Research, around 20 percent of all employees in Germany (excluding self-employed workers and civil servants) were on Kurzarbeit in May 2020 - although the number is now falling significantly.  

The relatively positive perception of Kurzarbeit uncovered by the YouGov survey is backed up by previous studies. For example, a panel study conducted by the University of Mannheim at the height of the crisis in May found that only about a third of Kurzarbeit workers were afraid of losing their jobs. Similarly, an IAB survey of parents subject to social security contributions found in May that general life satisfaction among Kurzarbeiters had not decreased significantly. 

“During the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, people saw that many companies could hold onto jobs with the help of Kurzarbeit,” said Oliver Stettes of the German Economic Institute (IW). “People now have that feeling again: the safety net holds.”   



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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