Does the best breakroom result in the greatest profits?


Being a Chief Innovation Officer is no small feat. It requires constant consideration of the future and how the company will be able to deal with the changes that will occur. The problem is that Wall Street is still dealing with its past. The stock market may have rebounded and profits may be back to pre-2008 levels, but the publics perception of Wall Street firms hasn’t changed. Even though it is important to control the perspective of the public, the most important thing when running a business is being able to recruit smart individuals. In the Late 1990’s and early 2000’s Wall Street was the best place to start a career. It was where the most money and opportunity was for a recent college graduates. It promised good fortune and possibility. After the multiple failures of the major Wall Street firms and the end of the glamour of the financial sector, college and business school graduates were looking for other professions. With the rise of Silicon Valley and the technology boom, the smartest and most competitive graduates were setting their eyes on the newest start-up or hottest trend coming out of the Bay Area. How can Wall Street challenge the enticing napping rooms, complimentary lunches, free yoga classes, and relaxed dressed code that is consistent throughout technology companies?

The only way that Wall Street, specifically, Goldman Sachs can change its image in the eyes of youth and the general public is by changing its treatment of workers. They need to implement healthy lunches and free gym classes during the day. By copying the start-up work culture, it could bring the work force back to the financials sector. Additionally, with increased breaks and a relaxed environment it could lead to more efficient workers and safer investments. When someone is holed up in a cubicle for 14 hours straight, they may not consider the ethical ramifications of their investment, because all they care about it trying to finish their work as soon as possible. They don’t care about the person that they are screwing over, they just want to go to bed and try to get a few hours of sleep before working another 16 hours the next day. Also, if you can hire more innovative employees, then it can possibly lead to smarter investing and higher returns. This is good for both the investor and the company as a whole.

The question of whom I would recruit to help with the transformation of Wall Street is a tough one. I think that I would need someone in the technology industry who knows about how to create a positive and happy work environment. I would probably fire most of the HR employees because their expertise would not be applicable except with the hiring process. From class I would probably bring West Shephard because he knows a lot about the technology world and would have a good understanding of the work environment within those firms. Next, I would bring along Laszlo Bock. He is the head of people operations at Google and would be an essential part of turning the company around. He has worked at Google since 2006, and has been able to transform the company into a playground for adults. Finally, this change in policy would create benefit for the employees, with better amenities, and the public, through safer investments. John Stuart Mill would agree with these decisions because it follows utilitarianism. Hopefully, this change would help Wall Street reach heights similar to its former glory.

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4 thoughts on “Does the best breakroom result in the greatest profits?

  1. I like your proposition here, does the culture change the corporation or does the corporation change the culture? I’m a die-hard optimistic and would be ready to jump on the idea of “google-fying” the Wall Street market to where people would enjoy doing what they do and being creative in doing it. However, after reading all that we have on these cases and recently watching “The Big Short,” I can’t help but think: “Well, weren’t they already being ‘creative’ with how they were unethically conducting business? And if they’re typically bringing in more dough than all of us combined, would tossing in a free gym pass really make them ‘happy’?” I just don’t know if Wall Street’s DNA is compatible with “happiness…”

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    1. I agree that this may be a problem. If you bring in more creativity into the industry it may lead to wall street finding other smarter ways of taking advantage of investors. You can see this with high frequency trading, where they are hiring people with PhD’s in engineering and areas of science. They are not hiring people that are interested in finance, instead they are looking for people to create the fastest trading technology. I think that this may be applicable if you try to recruit people from silicon valley.

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  2. Transforming Wall Street would be extremely difficult because the culture of profits and efficiency is so solidly engrained in most firms. Its a cutthroat place and many people working at these firms are likely not wanting to waste time during the hectic work day to take breaks shooting pool. I will say that cultures can change. Given what has happened on Wall Street in the past decade or so, change is more realistic as the old culture certainly contributed to the mistakes that were made in the financial crisis.

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  3. Does Wall Street actually have a hiring problem? How do you measure its potential besides salary?

    Changing the culture of working makes sense. But, it is worth asking, why did it build up? Usually, these practices are protected by those who went through them first. So, part of your change plan will need to include recruiting allies among middle management.

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