Hire Wire Aug 02 2011

At Goldman, You're Fired Gently

By julie steinberg

Getting laid off is never fun. But if it has to happen, one of the best places to do it on Wall Street is at Goldman Sachs. The firm has a surprisingly humane firing policy when it comes to its annual culling of underperforming employees, two sources familiar with the matter say.

According to a source within the bank, when Goldman sheds those in its bottom 5%, the firm pulls him or her aside in a private meeting, reveals the news and then gives the employee three or four months in which to find a new job. During that period, that person will remain at the bank and their status won't be revealed to anyone until they've found a new job.

"The firm doesn't announce anything initially," the source at the bank said. "It starts to become evident when the person isn't working until 4 in the morning and isn't staffed on a high-profile team, because the team needs someone who's going to be there."

In November 2008, during the financial crisis, this approach was discarded and some employees would be fired on the spot, the source at the bank said. But since then the custom has been restored.

Another source familiar with the matter said the practice is common across all areas of the bank's businesses. Goldman declined to comment.

"We've seen this practice at the more senior level at a number of bulge-bracket firms," said Heather Hammond, a senior member of the financial services team at Russell Reynolds, the New York-based executive search firm and a former employee at Morgan Stanley.

But at Goldman, employees across all levels can expect the same sort of treatment, the second source familiar with the matter said.

Write to Julie Steinberg at Julies@fins.com

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