In June, our new CMO, Ellen Luttrell forwarded me this article, Goldman Sachs restricts intern workday to 17 hours in wake of burnout death. If you didn’t see the story, an intern at Goldman Sachs was found dead in his room in London after working 36 hours straight. To be fair to Goldman Sachs, the intern was sick, an epileptic, and died of a seizure which may have been triggered by long work hours. While this is a horrible tragedy, what was interesting to me was the response from the Goldman Sachs CEO, to limit intern hours to 17 hours per day.
17 hours!??? This raises a lot of questions for me. Are interns really productive when working 17 hours per day? Do they do their best work? Are they really working all 17 hours? Aren’t there diminishing returns in productivity? How about 10 or 12 hours per day? Doesn’t that seem like it would create a more normal work-life balance? What are we teaching young interns?
What the CEO said was “You have to be interesting, you have to have interests away from the narrow thing of what you do,” he said. “You have to be somebody who somebody else wants to talk to.”
Honestly, I think this is terrible advice to give to a young person. At our company, everyone must have a hobby. And that’s what we tell them. Each employee must have outside interests and actually participate and execute on the outside interests. So some people coach kids water polo or basketball; others are avid rock climbers; still others are active in their college alumni association. We believe that employees perform better when they have time to NOT work and completely focus on their family, friends, and other activities.
As the summer is coming to a close and our Full Circle interns go back to school, I am reminded about millennial values and the importance of having good balance in our lives and hope our interns find their balance too.
Bonnie is a 5-time VP of Marketing at Genesys, Netscape, Oracle (Network Computer Inc.), Stratify, and VoiceObjects. While valuing the creative side of marketing, Bonnie’s real love is marketing operations — measuring marketing investments and determining investment optimization. Now as CEO of Full Circle Insights, Bonnie is working to help fellow marketers get the data needed to succeed. In 2000, Bonnie was named one of the “Top 20 Female Executives in Silicon Valley” by San Jose Magazine. Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.