The boss of Goldman Sachs has praised a group of junior bankers for speaking out over excessive working hours, but also said staff should “go an extra mile… even when we feel that we’re reaching our limit.”
In a message recorded and delivered to 34,000 staff across the globe on Sunday evening, CEO David Solomon said he took complaints “very seriously” and encouraged others at the investment bank to speak out.
He said: “I can imagine that many of you saw the presentation that a group of analysts shared with their management recently about their lack of work-life balance.
“This is something that our leadership team and I take very seriously.”
‘Arguably worse than foster care’
Mr Solomon’s comments came after first-year banking analysts at Goldman Sachs said they had worked an average of nearly 100 hours a week in 2021, and called for a new cap on their arduous workload, according to an internal presentation.
Junior bankers warned they could quit their roles if the situation does not improve, with an internal survey among 13 first-year analysts showing they worked a mean of 98 hours a week since January and slept five hours a night.
Most surveyed staff members said they were unlikely to stay at Goldman Sachs if working conditions did not change in the next six months.
The survey showed the analysts typically went to sleep at 3am, and worked an average of 105 hours in the week the survey was taken – the week ending 13 February.
One respondent said: “The sleep deprivation, the treatment by senior bankers, the mental and physical stress… I’ve been through foster care and this is arguably worse.”
Another said: “I didn’t come into this job expecting 9am-5pms, but I also didn’t expect consistent 9am-5ams either.”
‘We have to be connected 24/7’
Solomon explained he would be strengthening enforcement of “the Saturday rule” that junior bankers should not be expected in the office from 9pm on Friday until 9am on Sunday.
He added that plans for hiring more junior staff across its investment banking division would be accelerated and will automate more activities to reduce workloads.
There had been concerns among some staff that the junior analysts who compiled the work survey could face recriminations for raising issues at the bank, but Mr Solomon said he wanted more staff to speak out on issues.
The boss explained: “In this case, it’s great that this group of analysts went to their management. We want a workplace where people can share concerns freely. So we want to encourage all of you to take the opportunity to speak with your management. If there are any issues, do not hesitate to reach out to ask for help.”
Mr Solomon also used the meeting to suggest that continued work-from-home activities could be contributing towards difficulties among staff – re-enforcing his belief that workers should be back in offices.
He is becoming an increasingly isolated voice against hybrid working models being implemented, with the vast majority of businesses announcing flexible working as lockdowns and restrictions begin to ease.
Mr Solomon said: “We recognise that people working today face a new set of challenges. In this world of remote work, it feels like we have to be connected 24/7. All of us — your colleagues, your managers, our divisional leaders — we see that.”