Curiosity@Work Report | Insights by Country
Key Findings for Germany
- Managers in Germany struggle, similarly to their global peers, with issues related to employee morale, collaboration and retention. They also face challenges related to hiring applicants with necessary technical and interpersonal skills.
- Many managers in Germany believe curiosity is an intrinsically valuable trait that drives business impact. This mindset does not fully extend to the belief that it is a trait that will become much more important to have in the future or that employees who have more curiosity tend to be higher performers, compared to global averages. Still, German managers believe curiosity is a valuable trait for employees to possess across levels – particularly for C-suite and entry-level workers, where half believe this trait is very valuable.
- Curiosity can help address German managers’ concerns. Highly valuable benefits of curiosity include encouraging more collaboration and teamwork (50%), creative thinking (53%), and engagement (51%) within the workplace and among employees.
- German managers, for the most part, believe in curiosity’s ability to provide benefits to organizations through increased creative thinking or efficiency, and companies often formally incorporate this trait in initiatives related to performance and hiring. However, these beliefs are hampered by nearly half (47%) of German managers believing their employer is doing too much to foster curiosity in the workplace and more (51%) believing employees and job applicants have too much of this trait, suggesting a conflicting relationship between the perceived value of curiosity and the desire to encourage this trait among employees.
- Fewer managers in Germany fall into a category of individuals considered to be highly curious based on the SAS Curiosity Index (25% vs. 38% Global). It is beneficial for managers to display high workplace curiosity because they exhibit greater workplace engagement and motivation and do more to encourage this valuable skill among their direct reports compared to less curious peers, leaving German managers at risk of falling behind their peers in other markets.
Curiosity is an increasingly valuable employee trait at the global level – though feelings on its value are less strong among managers in Germany than they are globally.
Amid the Great Resignation and current hiring frenzy, managers in Germany:
- Believe curiosity is a very valuable trait in employees (59% in Germany vs. 72% globally).
- Don't believe curiosity is much more important for employees to have today than it was five years ago (38% in Germany vs. 51% globally).
Despite the high value placed on curiosity by many managers in Germany, 2 in 5 managers or more say:
- Curiosity is only somewhat valuable as a trait in employees (40%).
- It is only somewhat more important for employees to have curiosity today than it was five years ago (52%).
These managers often agree curiosity drives business impact but are less likely to say employees that have this trait are higher performers.
- Strongly agree curiosity in employees drives real business impact (58%).
- Strongly agree employees who have more curiosity tend to be higher performers (37% in Germany vs. 51% globally).
Managers in Germany, like their global peers, believe curiosity is a very valuable trait across organizational levels, though German managers focus this belief on top company leadership and entry-level employees.
- C-suite executives (50%).
- Directors and departmental leaders (40%).
- Midlevel managers (39%).
- Entry-level employees (50%).
When asked in which departments it is especially valuable for employees to have curiosity, German managers say:
- IT (61%).
- Research and development (40%).
- Marketing (40%).
Like their global counterparts, German managers recognize that curiosity is a skill that can address key business challenges and concerns.
Top employee challenges managers in Germany are facing:
- Retaining good employees (54%).
- Keeping employee morale/motivation high (51%).
- Achieving team performance objectives (51%).
- Collaboration/working as a team (50%).
Managers in Germany recognize the potential benefits of curious employees. Very valuable benefits of curiosity in employees are:
- More creative thinking and solutions (53%).
- Greater efficiency and productivity (53%).
- Greater employee engagement and job satisfaction (51%).
- Stronger collaboration and teamwork (50%).
- More flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty (50%).
German managers note the interconnectedness of curiosity and data expertise and digital integration.
To succeed in the next three years, managers in Germany need employees with:
- Technical skills in artificial intelligence (60%) and data analysis (54%).
- Personal attributes like flexibility (56%) and problem solving (55%).
Many managers in Germany believe it is especially valuable for employees to have curiosity when completing certain workplace tasks, though less strongly than their global peers:
- Innovating new solutions (50% in Germany vs. 62% globally).
- Tackling complex problems (42% vs. 55%).
- Analyzing data (43% vs. 52%).
Managers who rate high in curiosity: 
- Use an average of four different data sources in their role vs. three for their less curious peers. 
- More often use employee data (55% vs. 41% among those who rate low in curiosity) and performance metric data (56% vs. 41%).
These more curious managers, globally and in Germany, tend to be more advanced in their company’s integration of digital technology, as well. Overall, just a third (33%) of German managers believe their company’s integration of digital technology is very advanced. However, those German managers who rate high in curiosity are more likely to describe their organization as very advanced (51% vs. 26% for those who rate low in curiosity), highlighting how curiosity can help organizations adapt and become more competitive.
Curiosity remains integral to workplace success and career advancement in Germany.
Many companies globally, and in Germany, have formally included curiosity (or similar traits) in:
- Company training and development (73%).
- Promotion or advancement decisions (68%).
- Employee performance review criteria (66%).
- Hiring criteria (58%).
Like managers in other markets, those in Germany personally consider or encourage curiosity via:
- Employee performance reviews (84%).
- Coaching or team development (82%).
- Hiring decisions (79%).
- Promotion or advancement decisions (76%).
Views toward curiosity are complex. Many managers in Germany remain hesitant to encourage this trait and struggle with how or if it should be fostered.
German managers note they are only somewhat or not equipped to identify curiosity in:
- Job applicants (56%).
- Direct reports (57%).
A third or more of managers in Germany (on par with global averages) are very concerned about curiosity’s potential to lead to:
- Increased risk of errors or bad decisions (39%).
- Greater difficulty managing employees (36%).
- Greater difficulty coming to a final decision or taking action (33%).
- Decreased efficiency or productivity (31%).
These managers, like their global counterparts, admit they find it challenging to:
- Connect curiosity to job performance (43%).
- Identifying employees who have curiosity (41%).
- Connecting curiosity to business impact (40%).
- Identifying job applicants who have curiosity (40%).
Nearly half of managers in Germany believe their current employer is doing too much to encourage and foster curiosity in employees compared to the global average (47% in Germany vs. 30% globally), and a similar proportion believes employees and job applicants today have too much curiosity (51% in Germany vs. 35% globally). This suggests a conflicting relationship between the perceived value of curiosity, its potential benefits and the inclination to foster this trait in employees.
More curious managers exhibit greater workplace engagement and work to foster this skill among direct reports in several ways – both globally and within Germany.
The Curiosity Index  was used to measure the prevalence of curiosity in managers – compared to global averages, more managers in Germany can be categorized as moderately, if not less, curious in the workplace. Managers in Germany can be categorized as:
- High curiosity (most inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (25% in Germany vs. 38% globally).
- Moderate curiosity (48% in Germany vs. 43% globally).
- Low curiosity (least inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (28% vs. 18% globally).
Highly curious managers in Germany  embrace differing ideas and have a relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding. They often strongly agree that:
- They get excited thinking about experimenting with different ideas (80%).
- They seek out opportunities to expand their knowledge or skills (80%).
- When complex work problems arise, they continue to seek information until they understand it fully (77%).
- It is important to listen to ideas from people who think differently (76%).
Further highlighting the value of curiosity in helping companies address some of their key challenges when it comes to employee retention and performance, more curious managers both globally and in Germany are likely to:
- Strongly agree they would continue to work for their employer for as long as possible (83%).
- Strongly agree they feel motivated to go above and beyond what their job requires (59%).
- Say their direct reports’ performance is very strong (77%).
The top methods more curious managers in Germany use to foster and encourage curiosity are by:
- Reimbursing or paying for training or education (68%).
- Rewarding curiosity in performance reviews (57%).
- Publicly praising employees who demonstrate curiosity (53%).
Managers across the curiosity spectrum can be further divided into one of four segments based on how each segment values curiosity in the workplace in various ways.
Compared to many of their global peers, more managers in Germany fall into the segments that believe curiosity only brings partial or no added benefit to the workplace. Managers in Germany can be categorized as:
- High-curiosity collaborators (17% of German managers vs. 35% globally). The most curious segment. These managers value collaboration, are teamwork driven and are relentless in finding answers. They do this through listening and valuing co-workers' ideas and continuously seeking opportunities to expand skills but are more hesitant when new challenges present themselves. Focused on curiosity, these managers believe this trait leads to greater efficiency and productivity at work and results in greater job satisfaction.
- Flexibility-driven opinion seekers (27% of German managers vs. 26% globally). These managers embrace challenges, and the possibility of being distressed does not affect their motivation. Curiosity leads to greater flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty and can bring more empathy and inclusivity to workplaces. These managers do not believe that curiosity leads to a boost in efficiency or overall team performance.
- Productivity-focused leaders (32% of German managers vs. 24% globally). These managers believe curiosity can lead to stronger collaboration and teamwork and help increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. They do not, however, believe curiosity drives inclusivity and diversity of thought.
- Anti-curiosity leaders (23% of German managers vs. 16% globally). The smallest segment, these managers do not believe curiosity adds any value to performance or the workplace.
 Base note: n=186 high-curiosity managers.
 The 2021 Curiosity Index: The Curiosity Index score is based on the ratings of eight different attributes related to curiosity in the workplace. The index transforms the attributes’ raw ratings into a 0-100 metric where all the scores are averaged. Managers with a score of 71 or lower ranked “low” in the index; managers with a score ranging from 72 to 83 were categorized as “medium”; and those with a score of 84 or higher were assigned to the “high” category. The thresholds in each category were derived based on the index score distribution and best practices. Questions used in the development of this index were inspired by research conducted by Todd Kashdan and his team on the topic of curiosity in the workplace, “Curiosity has comprehensive benefits in the workplace: Developing and validating a multidimensional workplace curiosity scale in United States and German employees”.
Given its global value and impact, it is evident that curiosity is an increasingly necessary and crucial skill employees across levels (especially leadership) need to develop, as well as a trait that organizations must foster to remain competitive. However, despite the recognized importance of curiosity as a skill in the workforce, findings among German managers show there is complexity to how managers and organizations embrace and choose to foster curiosity in the workplace. Wide majorities of these managers’ organizations formally incorporate this trait in their company’s performance and hiring initiatives and managers often consider curiosity when making promotion and advancement decisions. But half (47%) also believe their employers are doing too much to encourage or foster curiosity at work, and a similar number (51%) believe employees and job applicants have too much of this trait. Even so, curiosity can foster more creative and productive workplaces and address challenges related to employee morale and retention – key to mitigating the Great Resignation and hiring challenges that many organizations are experiencing worldwide – and so cultivating this trait among employees remains important.
Knowing how to effectively develop this trait among employees is difficult. Many managers in Germany and on a global level find it challenging to connect this skill to areas like job and business performance or know how to identify this trait in employees and job applicants. Fewer managers in Germany rank high in the Curiosity Index compared to global averages, but those who identified as having more workplace curiosity in our research show increased motivation and satisfaction in their role and actively work to incorporate curiosity in their managerial style in multiple ways – like employee performance reviews or coaching and team development – and consider their direct reports to be stronger performers more often. The case for curiosity is clear. It is now up to organizations to embrace this trait and for managers to incorporate this skill in their employee development efforts or risk falling behind.