Goldman Sachs Headquarters, New York City
Goldman Sachs Headquarters, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This idea of work-life balance is now becoming one important factor in a person's life these days. For what would you do with your tons of money, when nobody is around you anymore to share it with? Or you are no longer healthy to at least enjoy it yourself?

Just what is all the point there is after all the trouble?


The hard-working investment banker got out of bed at 11 a.m. First a leisurely cup of coffee and some Greek yogurt. Then after a run, he and three friends spent the afternoon watching college basketball on television.

The junior banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized by his employer to talk to a reporter, was savoring a rarity: a Saturday off.

“It’s weird waking up, saying, ‘What do I do with my time now?’” he said.

In recent months, some of the biggest banks on Wall Street have upended tradition by urging their junior bankers to take weekend days off.

In January, Bank of America Merrill Lynch told its junior bankers to take four weekend days off every month. Credit Suisse and Citigroup have urged their analysts and associates not to work on Saturdays. Last year, Goldman Sachs recommended that its analysts take weekend off whenever possible, and JPMorgan Chase announced an initiative to ensure that young staff members would have one “protected weekend” every month.

“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,” said David Solomon, at Goldman Sachs. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Some may view the schedule change for overworked junior bankers as insignificant. But in an industry in which grueling schedules are embraced as a badge of honor, it reflects a significant shift in corporate culture.

The move to rethink workloads accelerated last summer when a 21-year-old intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s London office died after an epileptic seizure. Reports suggested that he had worked three nights in a row.

The change also reflects the shifting realities: Wall Street is no longer the inevitable first choice finance graduates, some of whom are drawn to technology firms that often offer flexibility at work and big paychecks.

Sonia Marciano, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University, said her students expected more than big bonuses. “My students, men and women, talk much more openly about an expectation of work-life balance,” said Ms. Marciano, who has been teaching for 20 years. “It’s a shift that seems pretty real and substantial.”

The junior banker who spent the recent Saturday with friends, said that in his first year on Wall Street, he worked all but a few weekend days. His parents stopped hoping that he would answer the phone. He lost touch with friends and struggled to find time to exercise. “The toll that it takes on you as a person, it’s overwhelming,” he said.

He still works through the weekend when a big deal is imminent and responds to calls and emails when he is out of the office.

But on that recent Saturday, he watched college basketball without his BlackBerry beeping. Later, he and his friends went out for burgers and a night of partying. “A chance to recharge,” he said.

He arrived home at 5 a.m., bleary-eyed and ready for a few hours of sleep. But just a few. It was Sunday, and time to get back to work.

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, The New York Times International Weekly, April 5, 2014


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