„I think Germany has an enormous amount to teach us,” says Thomas Geoghegan, a labor lawyer in Chicago and author of the Book “Were you born on the wrong Continent?” ”Us” implicates the average American and the teaching part refers basically to a lesson about a reasonable work-life balance.
Americans aren’t able to focus
Americans work almost 9 weeks more per year compared with an average German employee. That’s truly bad news. But it’s getting really worse when it comes to the point that the Germans nevertheless are more productive. Germans “probably working more efficiently than we are, and maybe the fact that they’re taking time off has something to do with that,” is Geoghegan’s conclusion. And he is absolutely right. Germans are much more efficient than Americans. That’s what I am experiencing all day long. And in my opinion the less efficiency comes from a huge lack of concentration. Lots of Americans aren’t able to focus on their work. Lots of them are unable to priories to do’s and, certainly one of the biggest issues, they are not very foresighted. And please don’t get me wrong. We are only talking about job issues so far. At the end of the day all that leads into a big management issue that can only be solved with longer working hours.
President Obama hugs German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Germans don’t have the guts for self-fulfillment
Regardless of the working hour discussion Americans sometimes are joking around about the rigid and structured German mentality. Always with the conclusion that the German society offers no space to live an individual life. And they are right. That’s the price we have to pay for it. A huge crowd in Germany, especially in younger ages, has the same desire for self-fulfillment than Americans. But most of them don’t have the guts to step out of their comfort zone. Social security seems more important than taking chances. And Germans are much more obligated to their jobs than Americans as well. While lots of Americans, primarily on the east and west coast, have a job that pays their bills Germans feel more responsible for their work. Especially for the quality, their co-workers or the brand they are working for. One reason might be again the lack of individualism in Germany. Other than in America Germans don’t have a job and besides them another carrier as artist, producer, journalist or what else. They accept that most part of their life is affected by work and the other part is to recover from it.
That might also explain why there is a minimum of 24 days holiday for each employee. Besides a very detailed and regulated social security of course. “They have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, nursing care, and childcare” is Geoghegan’s outline for this part. But he isn’t quite right on this. The federally mandated vacation is only five weeks. And we don’t have the free university tuition any more. But compared with the college expenses in America the tuition in Germany is definitely very inexpensive. So it still remains the question how Germany became such a great place to work. “The Allies did it” is Geoghegan’s answer for this. And he is as wrong as he possibly could be. The entire German social security system relates back to the efforts of Otto von Bismarck in the middle of the 19th century. No worries Mr. Geoghegan, I know about the concentration thing. There is no reason to blame you. I’m the teacher, you are the scholar. ‘Cause you’ve asked for it. And I promise, I’ll be very thoughtful with your concerns. Yes I am.
If you are intrested to read the entire Interview with Thomas Geoghegan, please stop by here.