Last week, Goldman Sachs made headlines for a massive experimental restructuring of its notorious junior analyst program, an attempt to help its famously overworked young employees attain better “work-life balance”—and to better compete for talent with cushy tech firms like Google.
Yesterday, Daily Intel reported that at Goldman, abstaining from work on Saturdays is not just recommended, but strictly enforced, beginning 9 p.m. Friday through 9 a.m. Sunday. Without a waiver, junior analysts will be barred from entering the offices of Goldman Sachs during that 36-hour period, and IT departments can monitor remote access to see if anyone is logging in from home.
Jews have been observing Shabbat for centuries, so we know a thing or two about skipping the office on Saturdays. But it seems that the workaholic young bankers at Goldman are feeling a little disoriented by their newfound freedom:
Part of the issue for Goldman is that it’s not just junior analysts whose behavior is being modified by the new rules. It’s also the associates, vice presidents, and managing directors who assign work to younger bankers, all of whom need to change their habits as well. Some of the people who came to work at Goldman came expressly because they wanted to work themselves to the bone, and changing such a deeply ingrained culture of overexertion is a structural challenge.
For Goldman Sachs analysts who don’t know how to relax on Shabbat, I’ve got a few ideas. Take a walk in Central Park or browse the racks at Brooklyn Flea. Spend time with family you never see. Even better, volunteer at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Rachel Silberstein is a writer living in New York.