Germany is known for its innovative economy and strong labor laws, but like anywhere else it has no shortage of bad employers. If you’re looking for work in Germany and want to avoid joining a miserable sweatshop, you should look no further than Kununu.com. The German-language website allows employees to post anonymous company ratings and reviews, à la Glassdoor.
Using data Thinknum scraped from the job review site, we identified the top-five worst white-collar employers in Germany by their average Kununu rating. We also explore what prompted the harsh feedback from both current and former employees.
Our ranking focuses on companies with over 800 Kununu reviews that employ mostly office workers. We excluded industries that are traditionally known for low job satisfaction such as retail and transportation.
The graph below* shows the distribution of large German companies by average Kununu rating. The majority of German employers with more than 800 Kununu reviews are rated above 3.5 out of 5 stars, though surprisingly few companies (just over 1%) had an average rating above 4.5 stars.
*This graph includes all German companies with more than 800 Kununu reviews, including employers in the industries that we excluded in our ranking.
Here are the five German companies you may want to avoid if you’re looking for job satisfaction.
#1 Postbank - Average Kununu rating: 3.1 out of 5 stars
Postbank, the retail banking division of Deutsche Bank, tops our list of the worst German companies to work for. Just 47% of Kununu reviewers would recommend that anyone work there. The company has the lowest rating for career and salary and for working environment, with a 2.9 out of 5 stars in both categories. It is completely unsurprising that just last month Postbank employees threatened to go on strike if their wages aren’t raised to account for inflation. Some issues with management at Postbank may stem from its past as part of the national postal banking system. It was a subsidiary of the German postal service until the acquisition by Deutsche Bank in 2008. Multiple employees allude to this in their qualms aimed at superiors, who some employees believe “got their training at the post office and for whom the word 'bank' is a foreign word.”
#2 Zalando - Average Kununu rating: 3.1 out of 5 stars
Berlin-based fashion ecommerce platform Zalando does not have a reputation for keeping its workers happy. Despite boasting a trendy office design and projecting a youthful startup-y vibe, just 54% of Kununu reviewers would recommend working at Zalando. Former and current employees complain about low pay, lack of a work-life balance, as well as “miserable” experience with communication. Zalando’s weakest rating is in the salary/benefits category with just 2.8 out of 5 stars. Diversity appeared to be its strongest suit, though it still commands a disappointingly low 3.4 out of 5 stars.
#3 Generali Deutschland - Average Kununu rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars
If you’re looking for an insurance gig, only 60% of Kununu reviewers recommend that you go for Generali Deutschland. Its parent company, Italian insurer Generali Group has been around since 1831 and can even count Franz Kafka amongst its past employees (no wonder his writing is infused with such existential dread). Generali Deutschland has low ratings for corporate culture and working environment, with employee complaints on a range of topics. Employees report a toxic work environment, which manifests in managers offloading accountability for mistakes onto others and “employees crying regularly.” Some employees also complain about the company doing a poor job of adapting to Covid and failing to provide adequate work-from-home equipment until 1.5 years into the pandemic.
#4 AKKA - Average Kununu rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars
AKKA claims to be a leader in the engineering and R&D consulting solutions, but according to its Kununu reviews it is far from leading in employee satisfaction. Just 42% of its Kununu-user employees believe that the company offers good pay, while in the past two years, a meager 38% have recommended working there. Common complaints touch upon poor or even deceitful communication, lack of career advancement options, and technology issues. Many employees are disgruntled by the lack of support from management, with one Kununu reviewer claiming that they had just two 5-minute conversations with their manager in the past 8 months. In short, as one Kununu reviewer put it: you won’t be happy here.
#5 Vonovia 3.4 out of 5 stars
Vonovia is one of Germany’s largest private housing companies, as well as one of the largest suppliers of misery to German workers according to its Kununu ratings. As of 2019, Vonovia managed more than 400,000 housing units across Germany and employed 10,000 people, many of whom have not hesitated to vent their workplace frustrations on Kununu. Its Kununu career and salary rating stands at 3 out of 5 stars, with just 46% of Kununu reviewers expressing satisfaction with their pay. Only 64% of employees would currently recommend working there, though that number has been as high as 75% over the past two years. Employees say they are weighed down by a non-existent work-life balance, duplicitous management and a lack of rewards for good performance. As an employer, you know you have a problem when your workers are likening their employment to slavery.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.