Spring means Goldman employees have a culture problem

If winter turns into spring, junior analysts at Goldman Sachs could get restless.

The New York Post and Business Intern this week, the two reported that Goldman was electronically monitoring office attendance, prompting a handful of bank employees to report the practice on Blind, a corporate message board that allows users to remain anonymous while verifying their employment via a corporate email account.

“During our team meeting, [my] manager showed us the Excel where the [managing directors] are investigating which department failed to meet office commitments,” a Goldman employee wrote on Blind, according to the Post.

Another wrote: ‘Apparently they track everyone’s attendance and the managers get lists of people who have low attendance so they can bully them into coming in.’

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has long been one of the most vocal advocates of office work banking. Early last year, he expressed frustration with the slow rollout of vaccines and called mandatory remote work at the start of the COVID era an “aberration”.

The personal interaction between employees in the office is a key part of what Solomon called, in Fortune Magazine last month, Goldman’s “secret sauce”.

“We attract thousands of really amazing young people who come to Goldman Sachs to learn how to work,” Solomon said. “Part of the secret sauce is that they come together, collaborate and work with people who are much more experienced than them.

“If you break it all down and spread it out…you can still do a lot of work,” Solomon added. “But you start unraveling the fundamental things that make the place so unique.”

Goldman reopened its New York headquarters on Feb. 1, with about half of employees based there working from the building, according to Fortune. The bank has since sought to increase this percentage.

An investment banking analyst who spoke to Business Insider on condition of anonymity estimated that footfall at 200 West Street had risen “to 70 [percent] at 75%.”

Four Goldman staffers told Business Insider that the bank monitors people entering and leaving its offices as a measure of footfall.

“They’re definitely watching sweeps,” the investment banking analyst said. “If you’re not around more than three to four times a week, you’ll get a call from business unit managers reminding you to be in the office.”

An asset management analyst told the publication that his unit was asked in a meeting to speak between 8 and 10 a.m. or risk being marked absent.

“If you’re not there at the time, it doesn’t count that you were scanned for the day,” he said. “It’s definitely an uneasy feeling.”

The analyst told Business Insider that a colleague recently took a job elsewhere after a manager repeatedly called about the colleague’s office attendance record.

“No one wants to be 5-0 and many companies are willing to allow hybrid/remote,” wrote one blind user – referring to five days of desktop and zero remote – in a comment seen by the New York Post.

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It was around this time last year that a group of 13 junior analysts at the bank presented their managers with a self-survey detailing ‘inhumane’ 100-hour working weeks, deteriorating physical and mental health and dwindling future prospects.

Employees asked management to cap workweeks at 80 hours and to adhere to the bank’s Saturday policy, which requires analysts to be out of the office from Friday 9 p.m. to Sunday 9 a.m. They also asked for 12 hours of lead time for requested changes to client presentations.

In the short term, Goldman responded by accelerating the hiring of new junior bankers, shifting staff to overburdened departments, reinforcing the Saturday policy and adopting a “selective” approach to new business, the FinancialTimes reported.

But the junior analysts’ slide game prompted a bigger shift in the banking sphere over the spring and summer, in which several of Goldman’s rivals — and eventually Goldman himself — raised starting salaries. up to the six-digit threshold and beyond.

The analysts also seemed to have earned Solomon’s respect by showing up. “In this world of remote work, it feels like we have to be connected 24/7,” Solomon said in a voice memo after the slide deck went viral. “All of us – your colleagues, your managers, our division heads – see it. We’re here to provide support and advice. It’s not easy, and we’re working hard to improve it.”

Perhaps the next step in initiating a culture shift is for blind users and Post and Business Insider sources to lose their anonymity.

“We want a workplace where people can freely share their concerns,” Solomon said. told Bloomberg after the slide deck has surfaced.

Again, Goldman would have shown itself to be not above being mean-spirited. The bank reportedly blocked unearned compensation for former executives who left the company and even banned some of the events organized by alumni and prevented them from cashing out stock bonuses that had been vested and taxed for up to five years earlier, according to Bloomberg.

A Goldman spokesperson declined to comment to the Post. However, a person close to the bank told the publication that worker frustration was not widespread.

“Far from a scientific investigation, The Post chose a handful of comments submitted to an online forum that no one has heard of,” the person said.