Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER-F) Adapts New Approach to Productivity


Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER-F), the wealth management division that consists of over 15,000 financial advisors and $2.2 trillion in client assets, is known as the world’s largest brokerage.  The image one holds of a financial advisors is of a sophisticated, well dressed gentleman. However, last month, the Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER-F) crew was in for a surprise in Orlando.

When put under the supervision of Chris Johnson, a wellness guru, who became a known figure under John Thiel’s leadership at the Bank of America, several dozen members were seen swinging their arms back and forth over their head, dancing away to the Kid’s rock “all summer long”.

Johnson as instructed by Thiel, has taken up the task of travelling throughout the country and engaging Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER-F) advisors into leading a healthier life style. Not just the brokers themselves, but their families and clients too. Johnson advices them to make liver oil, wheatgrass, chia, flax and spirulina, a part of their daily lives, along with making it a habit to take relaxing baths with Epsom salt.

According to Johnson, the current state of the Merrill employees was very unhealthy. They were taking too much medication, drinking too much, sleeping too little, gaining weight and all this was contributing to a not so attractive advisor image. Johnson plans on changing all that in the near future.

David Walker, the spokesperson for the Bank of America’s wealth business unit commented that it’s our duty to make sure our employees are healthy and taking care of themselves. Only then can they assure the required energy to cater to our clients. It reflects badly on the company, if they fall behind in ensuring that their employees are in good health.

Some of the techniques Merrill employees are recommended include:

–          Nap Time: Tony Schwartz, the CEO and founder for The Energy Project has advised the employees to create a habit of taking short afternoon naps. It helps restore their energy, hence increasing capacity to engage well. Schwartz even though believe the Merrill crew isn’t very willing to adopt his methods, guarantees nap programs, deep breathing exercises and eating well will dramatically increase productivity.

–          Bongo Drums: Another area of focus has been the meditating and playing bongo drum. He teaches meditation, in company of a pet. He suggests to create a place for pets and shut their eyes to feel the stillness around them. Soon you would feel your aroma is having an effect on your pet too.

At this point, the response from the employees has been both positive and negative. Even though some embrace this effort with an open heart and surely feel a rise in their energy level, others have dismissed it with annoyance and consider it a waste of time.

Thiel’s aim was to bring a balance in his employees’ life that will help them produce better performance, while on Wall Street. This provides his employees a break from time to time, from the strenuous challenging activities of the big corporate world they are lost in.