Even Goldman Sachs Wants Its People To Unplug

What does it mean when the biggest name in finance wants everybody to chill out a little?

It's nice when a many-tentacled behemoth exercises a little sweetness: Goldman Sachs, the paragon of finance (and accompanying hundred-hour work weeks), is now telling its junior analysts to take it a little easier, to not work quite so many weekends, to even, daresay, have hobbies.

Why's that? As Bloomberg notes, a "junior banker task force" was set up to improve analysts' work environment and career development.

The takeaways: Goldman's now going to drop the two-year contract for starting gigs in favor of full-time jobs from the start. Plus, according to spokesman Michael DuVally, they'll be getting (more) predictable working hours, be able to give more feedback to managers, and not work every weekend.

It's to the point that David Solomon, Goldman’s co-head of investment banking, is sounding like he's been reading Fast Company. Here he is, sounding almost like a startup CEO, stressing the long-term over the short:

The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career ... We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they’re going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

While it's unlikely that Goldman will turn into a yoga-loving maple syrup mafia any time soon, it does appear their culture is becoming less "toxic and destructive"—the adjectives former executive director Greg Smith used in his much-discussed resignation via New York Times op-ed last year, the Wall Street equivalent of saying "I'm gone" via Kanye-pumping YouTube video.

Instead, Goldman wants its junior analysts to be conversationalists. CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein told their interns that they should have lives outside of finance, says Bloomberg; he studied history, while former CEO Hank Paulson studied English lit.

"You have to be interesting, you have to have interests away from the narrow thing of what you do," Blankfein said in an online address. "You have to be somebody who somebody else wants to talk to."

What does this mean? To HBR writer Jody Greenstone Miller, it's a signal of "restructuring corporate work," one that will allow employers to be more efficient since they don't need to "buy people’s entire lives or pay for work they don’t need." In other words, Goldman may be on the way to decoupling time and performance—a conflation that smells like burnout.

Hat tip: Bloomberg

[Image: Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski]

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