The work culture in Frankfurt

work culture
Updated 2022-11-11 02:03

Frankfurt has a prosperous economy and offers a great environment for multinational companies to establish their headquarters and regional offices in the city. Given the diversity of sectors that thrive in Frankfurt (e.g., media, advertising, financial sector, etc.) and the number of professional expats and foreign talent in the city, the work culture in Frankfurt is a mix of influences and is characterized by flexibility and mutual respect.

Nevertheless, in order to adapt to the work culture as an expat, it will be useful to familiarise yourself with the prevalent German way of working, which is based on efficiency, accuracy, and diligence. As everywhere else in Germany, work-life balance is highly valued by employers and employees alike. 

Working in the financial sector in Frankfurt

Financial institutions in Frankfurt have a strong multinational spirit; however, at the same time, they remain quite traditional in certain aspects, and some (often unwritten) rules apply to everyone, such as that you shouldn't showcase your piercings and tattoos or be late for meetings and calls. Financial institutions require proper business attire, which is usually dark and elegant suits with shirts and ties for men, and suits, formal skirts, shirts that are not too colorful, and a piece of delicate jewelry for women. Shoes must be clean, polished, and formal. 

Even though these tips may sound like common knowledge, it is important to remember that in Germany, details are given extra attention, and such expectations must be met at all times. In addition, employees tend to identify with their workplace, meaning that they are proud of the company they work for, respect its norms, and are willing to give their full dedication for the benefit of the company. Financial institutions follow a strict hierarchy when it comes to job titles, positions, and management, and you have to always follow the line of reporting in your organization to avoid miscommunication and unintentionally offending your colleagues. 

Of course, it goes without saying that you have to leave your emotions and personal feelings outside work and be polite at all times, including addressing people by their title (i.e., Herr/Frau and last name), or even adding a qualification such as “doctor” as a sign of respect.

Good to know: 

The European Central Bank is one of the most prestigious financial institutions to work in Frankfurt. Employees claim that the work environment is professional and understanding, and an effort is being made from the top down to remove unnecessary stress. Similarly to most German companies, decision-making is a long process, and the hiring process may take even months. 

Work-life balance in Frankfurt

Germans work hard and play harder, meaning that they value leisure activities, quality time with family, and self-care. The typical workday in Germany, and therefore Frankfurt, is about seven to eight hours, and people rarely stay at work overtime. Logically, the more demanding your job is, and the more people that report to you, the more common it will be to work additional hours. 

However, if working overtime is a common practice, you should discuss this with your manager or employer and look into options such as higher pay, hiring an assistant, delegating your work to other colleagues and sharing responsibilities. As everywhere in the world, work-life balance has been impacted by COVID-19 as many people continue to work from home and have difficulty separating their work life from family and personal life. German people are avid travelers and holidays are a significant part of the work culture — workers in Germany have thirty days of vacation per year, which are allocated well in advance, allowing employees to plan their vacation. Overall, German companies protect their employees as a part of their team by keeping an open dialogue, understanding their needs, and taking into consideration their requests. Hence, changing jobs within a small period of time is not considered a good practice and is almost unethical in the eyes of German employers, as they tend to search for loyal, long-term workers.

Casual manners in Frankfurt

German people have an appreciation for formality, and casual manners should be avoided at all times in the work environment, especially among colleagues of different rankings in the hierarchy of the company. You should keep in mind that even though it is not frowned upon to develop friendships with your colleagues, it is rare and should not be your priority either. Besides, friendships take time, as German people rely on time and actions for building long-lasting relationships of trust. However, once they do, they are very loyal and helpful people. Companies organize team building events (e.g., dinners, after-work drinks, game nights, etc.) for colleagues to get to know each other, but even during such occasions, you shouldn't relax too much into the situations and cross boundaries of politeness and formality — at the end of the day, these people are still your colleagues. 

Good to know: 

Some companies have the “casual Friday” policy, allowing employees to wear something more comfortable than a suit on the last day of each week, such as jeans, jumpers, and trainers. Nevertheless, some basic rules still apply — you cannot wear ripped jeans, for example, or mini skirts and shorts in the summer.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.