For German Young People at Work, Fun Is Important—But So Is Money

A new MTV Knowing Youth study looks at how German young adults are experiencing the world of work today — and compares their impressions with those of slightly older workers.

How are young people in Germany experiencing the world of work today—and how do their impressions compare with slightly older workers?

A new MTV Knowing Youth study called “New Work” sought to answer that question through a survey of 1,000 German respondents aged 16 to 29 and 30 to 49.

Here are key findings from this project:

Fun comes first

Germans aged 16 to 29 ranked having a good time at work ahead of professional success, performance and even job security. More than 9 out of 10 (92%) said that “fun at work” is an important aspect of their lives. Enjoying themselves on the job was only outmatched by “fun and pleasure” in general (94%) and “financial independence” (93%). In contrast, 30- to 49-year-olds place higher importance on family and relationships.

Good salary + pleasant environment = a good job

Money still matters to young workers, however. For 16- to 29-year-olds, being well-paid was the essential criterion for a job, followed by work environment, work-family balance, professional appreciation, career prospects and professional development. The latter two factors were notably more important for 16- to 29-year-olds than for 30- to 49-year-olds.

Satisfied with their work environments, not so much with pay and work-life balance

For 16- to 29-year-olds, there is satisfaction with their work environment (74%) but room for improvement in pay, work-life balance, career prospects and professional development. Workers ages 30 to 49, on the other hand, would like to see more professional appreciation.

Jobs are a source of pride

Work is tied to self-image for 16- to 29-year-olds and 30- to 49-year-olds alike. They like the responsibility that comes with their job (74%) and are proud of their career accomplishments (74%). At the same time, they don’t define themselves exclusively by their jobs and prefer to keep their personal and business lives separate (56%).

Tough job market

Almost half of 16- to 29-year-olds and nearly a third of 30- to 49-year-olds had sought a new job in the last three years. Both groups perceived the job search process as more difficult the actual recruitment process.

Younger workers punch in more hours

Compared with 30- to 49-year-olds, workers 16 to 29 put in slightly more hours in an average week and are more likely to work overtime. Work-life balance and flexible hours are equally important to both groups.

Work-family balance could be better

Compared with 30- to 49-year-olds, 16- to 29-year-olds who either have or plan to have children possess a more positive–though still critical–impression of the compatibility of work and family life in Germany. Additionally, 16- to 29-year-olds are more likely than 30- to 49-year-olds to agree that “children always have an impact on their mother’s career no matter how much one tries” (66%).