Goldman Sachs withdraws 'free coffee' benefit as bankers return to five-day week

Goldman Sachs withdraws ‘free coffee’ benefit as bankers return to five-day week

It’s time for Goldman Sachs bankers to wake up and smell the coffee – and pay for it too.

As employees traveled to the Wall Street giant’s headquarters in lower Manhattan last Tuesday for a mandatory return to a five-day work week, they were met with an unpleasant surprise: the ‘free coffee’ station had been moved , sources told the Post.

The free “grab and go” station at the entrance to 200 West St. – cold brew, plus supplies of French vanilla cream, almond milk, soy milk and half and half – had appeared during the pandemic to encourage attendance, according to insiders.

But brass has since determined it doesn’t need sweeteners to get people back to the office, sources told the Post. Instead, management now feels the threat of being fired should be more than enough incentive, the sources said.

“RIP to another pandemic benefit for junior bankers,” lamented a Goldman junior banker. “I’m sure the partners still don’t have to pay for their coffee – or anything in their fancy dining room.”

“Of course they took the coffee away,” added another junior banker. “But I’ve been criticized so much since Labor Day that I haven’t really had time to think about it.”

Junior bankers complain that Goldman Sachs made the cold brew station disappear.
Junior bankers complain that Goldman Sachs made the cold brew station disappear.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Natural gas prices are displayed in front of Morgan Stanley in New York's Times Square neighborhood.
Natural gas prices are displayed in front of Morgan Stanley in New York’s Times Square neighborhood.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

As for coffee, a source close to banknotes, there is still free drip coffee elsewhere in the building, including at the building’s ‘Sky Lobby’ on the 11th floor. The source added that the bank also provided employees with cupcakes on their first day back. Yet junior employees counter that it’s an access issue and they don’t get the same quality cold brew.

At other Wall Street banks, executives and CEOs are embracing the return to normal — and the disappearance of benefits many have long taken for granted.

At Goldman as at its rivals JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, bankers of all levels deplore the loss of free tickets for the US Open tennis championship in Queens. Before the pandemic, major banks typically made additional notes available to top performers. But this year, the only way to land a seat is to bring a customer, sources add.

Spokespeople for JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the benefits of the US Open.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has grown increasingly aggressive with a remote work crackdown, privately telling senior executives he expects the base to be in the office five days a week – a norm stricter than the bank’s official line. three days a week, according to sources close to the company.

But it was Goldman CEO David Solomon – who called working from home an “aberration” – who signaled the return to the office with particular force. As first reported by The Post, Goldman told workers in a memo last month that he planned to lift all COVID protocols a week after Labor Day — a sign he won’t accept. excuses for employees to work from home.

In April, Solomon ended free daily car rides to and from the office, which the bank had started offering at the start of the COVID outbreak, The Post was first to report. This now limits the benefit to employees who work late at night, sources said.

200 West Street
Goldman Sachs workers dropped off at 200 West Street last week.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

This spring, Goldman also announced that employees would once again be responsible for the cost of breakfast and lunch. Goldman increased his dinner meal allowance to $30 from $25 – two months after the Post reported staff complained he couldn’t even buy a Chipotle dinner with the stingy allowance.

For some employees, however, part of Goldman’s appeal is the prestige of working long hours in addition to spending time with the boss.

“There’s a pride that comes with working crazy hours — and Goldman believes the best will want what Solomon demands,” John Breault, CEO of staffing firm Breault & Smith told the Post.

Other banks have taken a more relaxed approach to returning to the office. Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser – who banned Zoom meetings on Fridays in response to employee fatigue – refrained from demanding a five-day work week, despite the bank asking most employees to return at least a few days a week in March.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said he would provide more guidance on returning to the office in the next six to eight weeks – and describe “more formality in flexibility”.

Not everyone is convinced.

“Citibank and Bank of America are lame banks,” a Wall Street banker in his 20s who works at a small business told The Post, adding that he would never take a job there.

Still, some of the young bankers who have won awards at Goldman and JPMorgan say they wish they had more flexibility.

“I would rather not be in the office five days a week,” conceded a junior banker.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be in the office five days a week,” a former Goldman employee, who left to find a more flexible role, told The Post.

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