Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will allow senior staff to take an unlimited number of vacation days, the latest step by a Wall Street bank to retain talent in a heated job market.
Partners and directors of the New York investment bank can take time off if necessary “without a fixed entitlement to vacation days,” according to a company memo seen by Bloomberg. Junior employees will still have a vacation limit, but under the new policy introduced at the beginning of the month, they will receive a minimum of two extra days off each year.
All Goldman employees must take three weeks off each year beginning in 2023, the memo said. That includes at least one consecutive week of free time.
The new vacation policy comes more than a year after junior analysts at the bank complained about 100-hour work weeks and declining physical and mental health in “inhumane” conditions. That reverberated across Wall Street with companies pledging to do more to improve their workforce’s work-life balance.
The unlimited holiday policy can have a limited impact in practice. A 2017 study by HR platform Namely found that employees of companies with open-ended vacation pay tended to take fewer days off per year than with traditional systems. And it only applies to the highest ranks of the Wall Street firm, a workaholic cohort that probably won’t benefit much.
Still, it’s an eye-catching move from a bank whose hard-charging culture has become part of Wall Street’s lore. It reflects how competitive the job market has become, just as companies from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are trying to roll back the workplace policies introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlimited vacation pay is a perk increasingly common among tech companies, including Netflix Inc. Finance firms – steeped in a culture of long hours – adjusted more slowly, although UK broker FinnCap Group Plc said last year it was changing its holiday policy to offer employees unlimited paid breaks from 2022. The move was intended to ease pressure on to ease the workforce during an unprecedentedly busy time for capital markets.
Goldman’s increase in its vacation entitlements may soften the blow of taking several benefits from the pandemic era. Goldman ended free breakfast and lunch in the office last month – a perk to lure staff back to work. The bank has been one of the most aggressive financial firms to push for a return to office.