Research - 27.06.2017 - 00:00 

Study on the quality of life and life satisfaction

Germans mostly rate their life satisfaction as positive. For 49.4 per cent of all Germans in gainful employment, life is in keeping with their ideals in most respects. Another 33.9 per cent agree with this statement at least to a certain extent. This is revealed by a survey conducted by the Center for Disability and Integration at the University of St.Gallen.

28 June 2017. On the occasion of the presentation of the study, Andrea Nahles (Social Democratic Party), Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, said: "The study shows quite impressively how satisfied many people are with their lives; this is a gratifying result. For many people, the source of life satisfaction is their work – but not for all of them: one in five is not at all satisfied with their work. The results also show that the positive evaluations are not a matter of course. Companies, employers and employees, the social partners and the politicians must work together in order to create a more humane world of work for tomorrow."

Companies can actively promote life satisfaction

According to the study, companies play an important part with regard to the promotion of life satisfaction. In this respect, professional requirements make less of a difference than professional resources. This means that flexible working hours, a good relationship with the boss and the possibility of working autonomously give a substantial boost to life satisfaction. "Companies are also able to actively promote their employees' life satisfaction in competitive environments that are characterised by digitisation and technological change," says project leader Prof. Dr. Stephan Böhm from the Center for Disability and Integration at the University of St.Gallen. "To achieve this, they must reinforce their autonomy, extend flexibility with regard to workplace and working hours, and sensitise and train executive staff."

Stress factors mobbing and discrimination

Mobbing and discrimination are significant stress factors. Thus only 38 per cent of employees who have been discriminated against indicate that their lives are in line with their ideals. With interviewees without this experience, this rate is 51.7 per cent. Another high stress factor is the pressure to work faster that is exerted by technology. Among those who feel this pressure, 53.5 per cent say that they are emotionally exhausted. Also, the following applies: is must be possible for professional and private life to be kept separate from each other. Constant work-related communication in people’s spare time contributes to sleep problems and thus substantially reduces the life satisfaction of people in gainful employment.

Compensation through the social environment

According to the results of the study, a higher professional position and a higher income have a positive impact on satisfaction and health. Whereas only 37.9 per cent of employees with a net income of less than EUR 1,000 a month feel that their lives are ideal, that percentage is 70.2 per cent among top earners with EUR 4,000 a month.

However, the money factor is only one cornerstone for happiness in life. A stable social environment with family, children and friends makes an essential contribution to the preservation of health and satisfaction. Rootedness in the family is important: with a low degree of support from the family, only 26.2 per cent are content with their lives, with a high degree of support, this proportion is 57.8 per cent. Children, in particular, are not an encumbrance but a source of equilibrium and emotional stability. They do not cause a higher degree of emotional exhaustion or more stress: 55.2 per cent of all interviewees with children indicated that they were satisfied with their lives, while only 46.9 per cent of childless people were of the same opinion.

For the purposes of the study entitled "Lebensqualität und Lebenszufriedenheit von Berufstätigen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland" [Quality of life and life satisfaction of gainfully employed people in the Federal Republic of Germany], more than 8,000 German employees were interviewed in April 2017. The survey was commissioned by BARMER in cooperation with BILD am SONNTAG and is based on a survey conducted by the market research company GfK.

photo: Photocase / Bernd Vonau

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