BlackRock Lets Its Hair Down by Offering Unlimited Time OffBy
Firm adds perk as it seeks to compete for more tech talent
We’re a technology firm and asset manager, BlackRock says
BlackRock Inc., taking a page from Silicon Valley where ping-pong tables and on-site gyms are common perks, is offering unlimited time off.
The world’s largest asset manager began rolling out the perk earlier this month, confirmed Brian Beades, a BlackRock spokesman. The New York-based firm previously allotted vacation days based on seniority and job title.
BlackRock, with Wall Street roots, is providing a benefit that’s considered appealing to younger workers used to more casual and flexible environments. It also comes as Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink seeks to transform the company into more of a technology-focused firm. One of its most important products is Aladdin, a risk-management system offered to investment professionals.
“We are obviously a technology company as well as an asset management company,” Jeff Smith, BlackRock’s head of human resources, said in an interview Wednesday. “When we are competing in places like Silicon Valley, that is very important. It sends a signal.”
Smith said the change was made in response to surveys that found employees across almost every region and all demographic groups valued flexibility.
Within the past two years, the money manager began letting employees wear less formal work attire. The time-off policy follows Silicon Valley firms like Netflix Inc. and Zynga which have given unlimited vacation to attract top engineers.
“This is showing where BlackRock is pivoting,” said Kyle Sanders, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. “Ten years ago they were looking for MBAs out of Harvard. Now they are looking for data scientists and software developers.”
While the benefit seems like the ultimate in corporate generosity, experts say it can often have the opposite effect. People shy away from taking too much vacation lest they look like slackers.
BlackRock is also making it clear it expects employees to put performance -- not planning a month-long jaunt to Bali -- first.
“We are not flexible about performance,” Smith said. “We are flexible about time off, casual dress and some of the things that will lead to more energy and better performance.”