This week, following complaints from junior workers of 95-hour working weeks, abuse from senior staff and no work-life balance, the finance giant Goldman Sachs said it would increase its base pay for first-year bankers to £80,000, with Second-year bankers seeing a rise to £89,000.
Earlier in the year, junior workers at Goldman Sachs spoke out about the extreme burnout being caused by “inhumane” working conditions and long working weeks, as reported by the Financial Times.
In a leaked 11-page presentation created by 13 Goldman Sachs workers back in March, research showed that the average amount of hours worked in a single week totalled 105, whilst the average amount of hours slept per night was just five.
“There was a point where I was not eating, showering or doing anything else other than working from morning until after midnight,” commented one of the anonymous creators of the document.
At the time, bosses at the firm pledged to change historic practices to prevent younger workers from getting burned out. Among the various touted improvements to working life promised by CEO David Solomon was ‘work free Saturdays’ – however he also warned that it was likely high volumes of work would continue across the company.
“In the months ahead, there are times when we’re going to feel more stretched than others, but just remember: If we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we’re reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance,” he said, as reported by The Guardian.
‘It isn’t the plaster that can heal all issues’
Commenting on the news, Iain Thomson, Director at Sodexo Engage, noted that wage increases do not serve to solve the ‘underlying issue’ around the cases of burnout among Goldman Sachs’ younger workers.
“While salary is of course a small part of work incentives, it shouldn’t be the be all and end all, nor will it resolve the underlying issues that often drive top talent to leave, like burnout or poor management,” he said.
“Enhancing salary only papers over the cracks. Instead, employers should review their overall employee experience from workplace culture, to work-life balance and employee benefits.”
In addition, the outcry from workers has gained criticism from senior executives from within the banking institution. Xavier Rolet, who was head of the London Stock Exchange for eight years, called the young workers ‘entitled’, noting in a LinkedIn post that he would regularly work 130 hours a week, seven days a week in the 1980s.
Speaking to the Financial News, he said: "It's a free world. If you don't love what you're doing or think the hours don't suit your lifestyle, by any means do something else.”