Goldman’s head of wellness says mental health is probably the biggest issue at Goldman Sachs, its people want to know how to be happy

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Goldman Sachs takes the health and happiness of its staff seriously. It has its own ‘head of wellness,’ Patrick Watt. Today, Patrick gave a webinar on wellness at Goldman Sachs. We were in attendance. This is what Patrick said.

- Health at Goldman Sachs has been impacted by the uncertain times

Specifically, Patrick said recent changes in headcount have exacerbated health problems.

- The big health problems at Goldman Sachs are not physical, but mental

There are two main reasons why people take time off work, said Patrick: muscular skeletal issues and mental health. Mental health issues are a particular problem because they can be stigmatised and it’s more difficult to recognise the symptoms.

-  People at Goldman are being taught to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems and to feel no stigma about seeking help

There needs to be an awareness of symptoms like sleep problems or skin rashes, said Patrick. People suffering from the symptoms need to know that they can seek help confidentially.

-  Goldman gathers a huge amount of information on the wellness of its employees

Patrick reiterated this several times.

-  There is NO trend: anyone, at any level, can be affected by stress and mental health problems

Patrick said they’ve analysed the data and discovered problems can affect anyone, in any business, at any level: there is no trend or stereotype.

-  Goldman’s chief executive for Europe (Michael Sherwood?) has made two videos about the importance of recognising when staff aren’t coping

Manager must be equipped to recognise when their staff are having problems dealing with stress, said Watt. This can be a challenge to the extent that it means spending time with people and when business is difficult managers can find themselves focused on revenue-generating activities.

-   Goldman has run seminars on mindfulness and happiness. 1,000 people came to the happiness seminar

When Goldman held a happiness seminar, 1,000 people attended. Someone put up their hand and asked: “What are three things that will make me happy?” That was a bit sad, Watt admitted.

-   Goldman’s focus is not face time, it’s flexibility

Goldman’s onsite gym is open from 6am to 10pm and people can go there whenever they like. Managers need to appreciate that it’s ok to take a two hour lunchbreak. “It’s wrong to say that flexible working is only for parents,” Watt stressed.

-   Goldman may be actively encouraging its employees to stop smoking and asking local eateries to serve healthy foodstuffs

“If you see three or four people outside smoking, are there things you can do to stop them?” asked Watt. “Have you spoken to local sandwich shops about healthier options?” It was unclear whether he was speaking rhetorically.

-   Since Greg Smith, Goldman managers may have been encouraged to take note of employee dissatisfaction

We have had issues where people left and said they things they should have said to their managers, explained Watt. Because of this, the firm is placing more emphasis on manager engagement, buddying and mentoring, he implied.

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