‘I’m in a really dark place’: Complaints at Goldman Sachs set off a workplace debate.

A group of 13 disgruntled first-year analysts at Goldman Sachs has made waves by assembling a professional-looking presentation in the company’s style about their experiences at the investment bank. The resulting “Working Conditions Survey” (polling the 13 analysts who created the slide deck) that circulated on social media this week said that they worked an average of around 100 hours per week, with most saying that they considered themselves victims of workplace abuse.

The analysts rated their job satisfaction as two out of 10 and said they were unlikely to stay at Goldman in six months if working conditions remained the same. In addition to the long hours, the analysts cited unrealistic deadlines, being ignored in meetings and micromanagement as major sources of stress. Among other things, the analysts said that 80 hours per week should be the limit of how much they’re expected to work.

In their own words, some of the analysts described their angst in stark terms:

“There was a point where I was not eating, showering or doing anything else other than working from morning until after midnight.”

“My body physically hurts all the time and mentally I’m in a really dark place.”

“I didn’t come into this job expecting a 9am-5pm’s, but I also didn’t expect consistent 9am-5am’s either.”

The DealBook newsletter writes that the episode raises an important question: In a highly paid industry, when do the hours worked become exploitative? There are two sides to the debate:

The no-sympathy crowd says that first-year analysts at Goldman and other similar firms have no right to complain about long hours. They are highly educated and chose to go into investment banking, in part, because it pays $150,000 or more straight out of college with the promise that within a decade compensation can reach seven figures. A first-year analyst instantly becomes a member of the 0.1 percent for their age and experience. The long hours shouldn’t come as a surprise: Every recruiting website, book and Hollywood film about Wall Street makes that part of the job clear. It is, in truth, the pact that employees make with employers in exchange for lots of money.

The violin-playing crowd says that Wall Street isn’t focused enough on the mental health of young workers. Nobody should be forced to work that much. What’s more, the long hours are inefficient, unproductive and simply part of an ego-driven hazing ritual by older bankers who suffered the same fate in less enlightened times. Abuse is abuse, no matter how much money someone is paid. Banks, they say, misrepresent the workload during the hiring process by talking about improving work-life balance but not doing anything about it.

“We recognize that our people are very busy, because business is strong and volumes are at historic levels,” Goldman said in a statement. “A year into Covid, people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them.”

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