Start-ups cut staff during the crisis – and are now thinking about growth again

June 5, 2023

  • On average, start-ups employ 14 staff – after 20 in the previous year
  • But 80 per cent of start-ups want to increase staff this year
  • 6 out of 10 start-ups currently have vacancies

War against Ukraine, rising interest rates and high inflation – the difficult economic conditions have not spared start-ups. Currently, the average number of employees is 14, compared to 20 a year ago. At the same time, however, there are already signs of a turnaround. Currently, 6 out of 10 start-ups (60 percent) have vacancies, with an average of 4 positions to be filled. These are the results of a survey of 203 tech start-ups commissioned by the digital association Bitkom. “Many start-ups have recently been forced to cut costs. In addition, many large and medium-sized companies are also vying for the sought-after tech experts at startups in view of the increasing shortage of skilled workers – this makes it more difficult for startups,” says Bitkom President Achim Berg. “For 2023, however, the prospects are better again: the majority of startups need new people and are actively looking for staff.” Politics can also provide support: the Skilled Worker Immigration Act already passed by the Federal Cabinet and the planned Future Financing Act offer the opportunity to attract and retain skilled workers. Berg: “Faster and simplified visa processes and tax conditions for employee participation that are attractive in international comparison are strong levers to help the German startup ecosystem grow.”

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of startups currently have 9 employees or less, 17 per cent have 10 to 19 employees and also 17 per cent have 20 or more. 80 per cent of startups expect to increase their workforce over the course of the year, and only 1 per cent expect to reduce their workforce in 2023. 11 percent expect stable employment, 7 percent could not or would not give a statement on this.
Note on methodology: The data is based on a survey conducted by Bitkom Research on behalf of the digital association Bitkom. In the process, 203 tech start-ups from Germany were surveyed. The survey is not representative, but gives a meaningful picture of the mood for start-ups in Germany. The questions were: “How many employees, including all founders, are currently employed in your startup?”, “How many vacancies are there currently in your startup?” and “How do you expect the number of employees in your startup to develop in 2023?

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