Monthly Archives: January 2016

Land of the Limited in Time?

More than half of all young German workers do only have term contracts and no long-term job security. Sounds like bad prospects in the economic boom country. However, there seems to be a grain of salt in the statistics. Is it all just “half” as bad after all?

By Jens Kügler

The economy is booming. Germany has a higher employment rate than ever before and the lowest unemployment rate since the aftermath of the reunification in 1990. Yet the recent labor market data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) caused some concern. The results made some media publish reports that seemed to be scaring––at least at first glance. The head and subject lines of the newsletters leading to these posts succeeded in animating the newsletter recipients to open and read more.

About 50% of all Germans up to 24 years do not have a permanent job contract, as the OECD study is cited. Only in the Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal, that percentage is higher. The authors also refer to a survey of the German Trade Union Federation, according to which the general positive labor market situation does not exist for young people. Among them, the mood is comparatively poor. In this context, there is talk of “scraping through from from one temporary contract to the next.”

But those who read on further also learn about reasons to these amazingly negative figures and statements. One reason which initially surprises is seen in the German dual training system. It’s surprising because this system has always been regarded as a model worldwide with its mix of vocational school and company training. Now, where the heck is the bug in the statistics and lamentations?

Since there is nothing comparable to the German dual education system in the world, international surveys would equalize German apprenticeships with time-limited contracts, as the media colleagues say. German apprenticeships, however, mean naturally limited contracts. So international statistics make something look bad that actually has proved to be good for the domestic economy. Different results come form the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) run by the National Employment Agency. According to his research report, without the trainees just 7.4% of all German workers aged over 15 were only temporarily employed. In particular, about 21% among 15- to 24-year-olds, 12.4% in the 25- to 34-year-olds and only 6.9% for up to 44 year olds had temporary contracts .

So not all that bad? Well, those who actually fight for a contract probably won’t agree. Most of all, the trade unions and those political parties which committed themselves to the working class’ mission surely see it all from a different angle. But on the other hand, they must argue like they do, for many workers’ regular incomes and futures are only safe because of their struggle for permanent employment contracts and for takeover guarantees after apprenticeships. They also ensure social peace and economic stability for the country.

Actually, there are two sides to every coin. Considering this kind of “dual system”, we should also discuss the bad image of temporary work, too. On the positive side, frequent job and workplace shifts expand the knowledge and experience horizon.

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Women missing at World Economic Forum

Only 18 percent of all participants at the World Economic Forum 2016 in the Swiss winter sports paradise Davos were women. And that’s just one of an apparently never ending sequence of statistic surveys saying that there is still an incredible lack of women leadership positions.

Written by Jens Kügler

From 20 to 23 January 2016 almost 3,000 people from politics and science and especially from the business community met at the World Economic Forum in the mountain town of Davos in Switzerland. Among these magnates, the share of men was 82 percent. So all the company owners and presidents, all the people with endless long job titles such as Chief Executive Officer World Finance and Business Development – almost exclusively they were male.

There is just one little good news to be added: the percentage of women at the World Forum has continuously been increasing. 2014 it was just 16 percent, in 2015 already 17. However, the reason why there is a rising number of women as participants may be the event organizer’s women’s quota: Since 2011, all companies and institutions which travel to Davos with five or more delegates are asked to include at least one women.

A similarly disillusioning statistics on female executives was recently published, too: the German Startup Monitor 2015. Its publishers are inter alia the auditing and consulting company KPMG and the Association of German Startups. According to this survey, in 2015 more than 43 percent of all new businesses in Germany were founded by women––so far, so good. But the percentage of female startup founders was only 13.

For these different figures, the German Startup Monitor names several reasons. Female enterprise founders usually focused on the classic women’s jobs: They open beauty salons or fashion boutiques. They build up online gift delivery shops or offer their activities in the social and health services. But the booming construction industry, the manufacturing sector, the technical professions and many more remain dominated by the male. As already described in other articles: women have equal opportunities. Basically. But they hardly take them.

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“Power Plus” against January Blues (2): How to Motivate Ourselves

In reality, we see the supposedly snowy white January in deepest gray. The period of holidays is over and there is no other sight. Indeed, there is hardly anything that people look forward to. Everyone is short of money after all the gifts and travel expenses. So it looks like a bad time to make the annual revised “good intentions” come true. Right? No. Read part two of the to-do’s against the “January Blues”.

By Jens Kügler

I, you, your staff––all of us: What can we do to motivate us right now? Here are some ways to do so.

Push-start yourself like a car. Think about the car which needs your help to get out of the snowy parking space. Move your mind like it. And for some time, fade out all doubts, negative thoughts and devaluing feedbacks. Everything negative slows down. Put on blinders––it’s not always bad––and focus on everything positive about you and your work. Maybe for a week, maybe two––and you will be mentally on top again and able to even cope with setbacks and losing streaks.

Paint yourself a picture of your aim in your mind. How would you look like in the mirror with twenty pounds less? How will the product that you will or have to complete in two or three weeks look and feel like? Imagine the project and the work result just figuratively rather than abstractly. Images create emotions. Emotions set free energies.

Build up pressure and “canalize” it. Do you know the secret key note of all people who are not always and excessively staying on task? It’s something you might describe as “pressure creates work” and explains why we like to hang behind at the beginning of a project and toil hard when the end of it comes near. If you know it, you maybe also share the moments of time pressure and deadlines creating motivational moments. Why is it so? Because we gain speed and self confidence with each and every hurdle that we successfully master. Therefore, it may be advisable to wait to start until the pressure is slowly noticeable––and divide the working range in small, achievable milestones.

Create some competition between you and your colleagues. Try to see a bit of a role model in those colleagues of you who are usually motivated and––in your view––successful. Compete with them. Exchange information on achievements and get carried away. Have you already achieved what your colleague still has to? Keep it up!

Celebrate each success. Act––in your way––like the “beast in the goal”: Klaus Thomforde. The successful former Bundesliga soccer goalkeeper of FC St. Pauli enthusiastically clenched his fists after every ball that he kept and carried out gestures that resembled the cheers of scorers. Every success, no matter how small, is an achievement for which we should reward ourselves. The clenched fist has the power of suggestion. It is associated with endorphins. So do it like Klaus, the “beast in the goal!”

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“Power Plus” against January Blues (1): Employee Motivation of the Month

Here it is: Working week number one after all these days of Christmas, New Year and–if in Catholic areas–Epiphany. In this gray month of January the desire to work is often not the best. But it’s not quite as blue anymore if you look in the web and search for tips against the “January Blues”. Here is part one of a little series. To be continued next week.

By Jens Kügler

Employees often find it more difficult to get back into “business as usual” than most of their bosses believe. Many experts estimate that productivity drops considerably even throughout the whole of January. So what can you as executive do to give your staff the best possible motivation boost and make them work happily again?

Try to keep up a little bit of that eagerly awaited “Merry Christmas” feeling! At no other time in year your employees run out of money more than now, after all the Christmas presents, parties and journeys. Most of all: At no other time in year your employees have less to look forward to! Now it’s your turn: A convivial staff dinner, an after-work party, a pre-Carnival party, an earlier finish from work … there are lots of ideas and inspirations.

Let your employees set goals! Discuss and ask your people: What was the previous year like and what can we learn from this? What would they like to improve and achieve this year for themselves and the company? Nothing inspires more than a common goal. Oh, and of course, a small bonus if targets really get met!

Involve your staff more in your decisions! At least let them feel they get involved, because your employees are thankful if they know: My opinion is valued. I can and I do contribute to the company’s success. My contribution is appreciated.

Go ahead with a “Fit & Healthy” program! Benefit from the good intentions such as losing weight, exercising more or doing gym training—and, of course—promote these intentions. For example, offer free healthy snacks at the working places. Provide exercise sessions at the office. Motivate your people for walks and offer them the time for it as fresh air is more important than ever in the year now! Or arrange discounts for your workforce at the local gym. Healthier employees are happier and more productive.

Provide further training opportunities for your employees! When the new year starts, employees often want to learn something new. They want to improve themselves, their careers and incomes. Equipped with a corresponding “program”, their job satisfaction will rise measurably. Nothing is more important for your employer branding than this kind of satisfaction.

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