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Volume 1, Issue 7
An interview with Tracey E. Benford, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs & Co., on accommodating today’s workforce to stay competitive on talent, boost employee satisfaction, and maintain productive teams. She discusses the strategies her firm deploys as well as what other, smaller organizations might consider implementing.
Can you speak broadly about the impact of work/life/family benefits on attracting and retaining employees?
The firm has a commitment to creating and promoting innovative policies to support our employees balancing work and family responsibilities. We work to extend the longevity of really talented people giving them a place where they feel they can flourish both personally and professionally. We are thrilled that Goldman Sachs is recognized as an employer of choice, and has received awards by many leading publications and organizations including Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For; Working Mother: 100 Best Companies; Fatherly: The 50 Best Places to Work for New Dads. Most recently, Vault.com ranked Goldman Sachs #1 banking employer, highlighting initiatives by the firm to create a flexible workplace for parents and families.
How has Goldman Sachs responded to the evolving needs and changing demographics of its workforce?
As demographics change, we change. We study and we read about best practices. Our Human Capital Management Group spends a lot of time thinking about how we can support our employees, determining what is going to work within the context of the world of finance. We get feedback from our employees. We come up with what works best for Goldman Sachs and our people. We want to attract the top talent and ensure that our high performers stay here and continue to perform.
People are more productive at work if they’re happy at home and at work. It makes sense for us to keep that balance. We understand that it is important for both parents to have time at home and share responsibilities after the birth or adoption of a child. We believe that providing sufficient paid time off for our employees to spend with their families, as well as resources and back-up care, is in line with our commitment to the personal resilience of our workforce. The firm offers 16 weeks of full-paid maternity leave for mothers or 16 weeks of fully-paid adoption/surrogacy leave for primary caregivers. Starting in 2015, the firm announced the enhanced parenting leave policy, offering four weeks of paid parenting leave to non-primary caregivers worldwide following the birth or adoption of a child, doubling the two weeks previously offered.
One newer program at companies that seems especially interesting involves elder care: can you provide some insight into this initiative, how it works at Goldman Sachs, and how it may be growing in popularity?
Goldman Sachs invests in its people, and every generation is different. We are especially attentive to employees who are caring for older parents. It comes back again to extending our people’s longevity and alleviating some of that worry about family and how they’ll be cared for. The firm provides resources for employees with aging family members through one of our providers – support and tools focused on all the stages of caregiving including referrals for senior and adult caregivers and housing, community programs, Medicaid and Medicare.
The firm also offers training and resources for elder-care support. Since 2015, we have offered two programs focused on understanding the prevention, treatment, and caregivers roles of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Beyond elder care, what types of programs do you see becoming more needed for employees?
Resilience training has been a focus for the last five years and continues to expand. These programs help our employees improve time management, stress management skills, as well as health issues. Resilient workers are less likely to miss work. The more resilience a person has, the better equipped they are to handle the effects of stress. In September, we launched a series of family resilience events addressing topics such as sleep and parenting, financial guidance for employees with dependents, mindfulness training for caregivers and cultivating resilience in children.
What positive effects have you noticed at the firm itself as a result of its policies and programs policies?
When I started at Goldman Sachs, 21 years ago, we were on the policy forefront, but as demographics and the environment change we need to change and grow in order to continue to provide the best and market leading policies and programs. Today, we offer our employees a range of programs and services that allow them to take meaningful time off when they have a baby. These programs are very well publicized, and managers are trained in how they can be supportive. Results are clear. Services such as the Expectant Parent Program have increased retention efforts among expectant parents. We provide employees and their spouses/domestic partner’s access to personalized sessions with the Expectant Parent Coordinator to help navigate the firm’s full range of expectant parent offerings. The Coordinator provides support and assistance throughout the full spectrum of their journey to parenthood and successful transition back to work.
Are programs at Goldman Sachs within reach for smaller companies?
I think it depends on the specific company culture and needs of its people. The idea of wellness programs can apply to any size company. It might mean having access to a trainer during the work day, providing a discount at a local gym, the dress code, seminars, etc. The programs at Goldman Sachs are based on the needs of our people. There is likely a solution for every company to offer support and resources for their workforce. Leveraging vendors and resources within your community, is an effective and cost efficient way to deliver events and programs to enhance the wellbeing of your employees if in-house options are not a possibility.
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