TALK | Dr. Stefan Kannewischer, Kannewischer Management AG: “The integration of refugees into work also helps companies!”

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TALK | Dr. Stefan Kannewischer, Kannewischer Management AG: Dr. In an interview, Stefan Kannewischer explains why he hired refugees for entrepreneurial reasons, how successful integration can succeed - and what could work even better.

Dr. Stefan Kannewischer is Managing Director of Kannewischer Management AG and the Kannewischer Collection, to which 6 spas throughout Germany belong. After studying business administration in St. Gallen, he worked as a consultant for Bain and Company in London, Frankfurt and Munich, before joining the family business. He wrote his dissertation on the privatization of public recreational infrastructures using the example of baths. In addition, President of IAKS International and member of two commissions of the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

Here writes for you:

Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Mr. Dr. Kannewischer, at the moment the discussion of refugees is in full swing, right now we see the pictures from Chemnitz in the news. You yourself deal in yours Company Refugees. Are you an idealist?

Yes, I already call myself an ambitious idealist. But the attitude of refugees is not based on idealistic motives.

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A look at politics suggests otherwise. Where are your motives?

When the cover pages of 2015 were first determined by refugee discussions in September, we considered whether we could do something and what. After that it took half a year until we could have a first job interview with a refugee.

This was at that time, however, already four years in Germany. Today, I have to say clearly from my experience: Integrating refugees into work also helps companies!

Please explain something in more detail.

The main reason is certain that there has not been any more workforce in Germany for some time - at least we can say that for our industry.

The German labor market has been swept away and the quality of those who apply to us is often very bad, even unwilling to work. Alternatively, the salary requirements are unrealistic.

How many refugees did you hire?

A total of six.

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In which positions do they work?

Four people work as kitchen assistants in the restaurant, one as a trainee as a restaurant specialist and one as a guest supervisor in the spa landscape and sauna park

In your opinion, can refugees close the shortage of skilled workers in Germany?

We were more likely to hire the refugees into auxiliary positions. This gap can sometimes be closed very well. Even an education is conceivable in some positions.

However, many refugees are no longer young, sometimes have a family with them and then no longer need to live with a salary for a trainee. As a result, they only want to or can not qualify further.

It is often criticized that the refugees are not sufficiently qualified: how much extra work did you have to raise to integrate the employees?

The effort was greatest at our employee in ThermenLandschaft and SaunaPark. Our staff there have permanent guest contact and must speak good German, which was not given at the beginning.

Therefore, we let him run for four months in addition and then divided like all other employees. For this we got a salary subsidy from the employment office. For the kitchen help, it worked faster and was comparable to teaching a new employee.

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Which were the biggest hurdles?

The language is the biggest handicap. Someone who does not speak German can not start working with us either.

Another topic may be different values ​​and beliefs: One of our employees, for example, did not understand that there are women in management positions to whom he had to submit as a man. That sometimes led to discussions at the beginning.

And what, conversely, is necessary to ensure that the integration of refugees into working life works smoothly?

The most important thing for a successful integration is certainly that the refugees have a job or a task that allows you to participate in life in Germany. Then learning the language works very well and fast.

It is also important for everyone to earn their own money and not depend on the authorities. That creates self-confidence. We could observe that with all refugees in our house.

What do you think should change to make it easier for companies to hire refugees?

Only one out of six refugees has been referred to us through the Employment Agency. All the others came about through an initiative of a private person who turned to us.

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So we have no real contact person to whom we can offer our vacancies for refugees. At the moment there are no offers of applicants from refugees coming to us via the Employment Agency, no matter for which job.

There are now some internet platforms which refugees offer work. There you can present yourself as a company. However, this works only for large cities, not for rural areas where our spas are located.

From the point of view of the entrepreneur: is it worthwhile to invest in employees who may possibly be deported again?

It certainly makes more sense to hire recognized refugees in Germany.

How well did the integration into everyday work and workflows work in general?

We have only had good experiences with it. Since they are surrounded by German-speaking employees throughout the day, they learn the language very quickly and integrate quickly and well in their daily work. And also in the team they work with.

How were the refugees received by the other employees?

This worked great for us! Some of the refugee employees are also doing something private with their German colleagues and are fully accepted, since they also do the same work as their colleagues.

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