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Employee Engagement

Investment bank Citigroup has introduced ‘Zoom-free Fridays’ to prevent staff suffering from burnout and to allow them to better manage their work-life balance.

In a internal memo sent to its 200,000+ staff on Monday, the company’s new CEO Jane Fraser wrote: “The blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our wellbeing.”

The memo added: “It’s simply not sustainable.” According to Fraser, the decision to ban Friday Zoom calls was taken as a direct response to listening to staff feedback.

She further explained: “After listening to colleagues around the world, it became apparent we need to combat the ‘Zoom fatigue’ that many of us feel, so I overcame my initial resistance to this idea.”

In addition to curbing internal Zoom calls, Citigroup staff have been asked to try and limit scheduling calls outside what is typically the normal working day. Weekend calls are also to be stopped if at all possible.

She wrote: “When our work regularly spills over into nights, very early mornings and weekends, it can prevent us from recharging fully, and that isn’t good for you nor, ultimately, for Citi.”

Staff may still be required to take audio calls, and external Zoom calls with clients or regulators, but the ambition is to not do any inter-colleague ones at the end of the week.

Fraser also announced that the company would take an all-employee holiday – dubbed its Citi Reset Day – on Friday 28 May. The first one took place last year, and is returning by popular demand.

The memo came as Goldman Sachs’ CEO, David Soloman, was forced into promising to do more to protect new workers from excessive hours. Earlier this week junior bankers claimed they were suffering serious mental and physical health problems by consistently working 100-hour weeks.

One worker there said going through foster care was a better experience than the sleep deprivation, mental and physical stress they go through while working for the bank.

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