Pandemic Fatigue Hits Investment Banks, Goldman Sachs Analysts Call Conditions ‘Inhumane’

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Pandemic fatigue and the blurring of lines between work and home are taking its toll on many sectors of the labor force, including investment banking employees at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Executives at the banks are now saying they will try to remedy some of the effects of the working conditions that some employees are calling “inhumane.”

See: How to Avoid Work Burnout During a Pandemic
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A Goldman Sachs internal survey of first-year analysts shows that if working conditions do not change in the next six months, most first-year analysts say they are unable to stay at the investment bank and that the stresses of work have been detrimental to both their physical and mental health.

An analyst quoted in the survey said, “What is not ok to me is 110-120 hours over the course of a week! The math is simple, that leaves 4 hours a day for eating, sleeping, showering, bathroom and general transition time. This is beyond the level of ‘hard-working’, this is inhumane / abuse.”

Another employee said, “Being unemployed is less frightening to me than what my body might succumb to if I keep up this lifestyle.”

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The analysts offer some solutions to rectify the situation, including respecting an 80-hour work week, and respecting the Friday night 9 p.m. policy and Saturday policy, according to the survey.

Following the release of the survey, which made the rounds on social media, CNBC reports that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon issued a voice note to his employees on Sunday evening: “Let me say to everyone, and in particular to our analysts and associates: We recognize that people working today face a new set of challenges.”

“In this world of remote work, it feels like we have to be connected 24/7. All of us — your colleagues, your managers, our divisional leaders — we see that. We’re here to provide support and guidance. This is not easy, and we’re working hard to make it better,” Solomon added, according to CNBC.

See: How Work-Life Balance Can Make You a Better Employee
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Following Solomon’s address, Jane Fraser, the CEO of Citigroup, took concrete steps to address the work/life balance of her employees. In a memo obtained by Bloomberg on Tuesday, Fraser announced “Zoom-Free Fridays.” In addition, she designated May 28 as a companywide holiday to be known as “Citi Reset Day,” according to Bloomberg.

“I know, from your feedback and my own experience, the blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being,” Fraser wrote in the memo. “It’s simply not sustainable.”

In the memo, Fraser also laid out the future of work at Citi, with the majority of the bank’s employees having hybrid roles, working in the office at least three days a week and as many two days a week from home, according to Bloomberg.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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