Being the CEO is not for the faint of heart. When you are at this level of your career, you are expected to make tough decisions that can make or break a company.
Andi Owen, the chief executive of US furniture company MillerKnoll, got more than she bargained for when she told her employees to get out of ‘’pity city’’ over unpaid bonuses.
zoom call from a ceo who cancelled all employee bonuses but took a $6.4 million bonus herself pic.twitter.com/SMZP6QQYCX— Warren Commission Test Skull (@conzmoleman) April 17, 2023
In what looks like a recorded virtual meeting with workers, Owen started by saying that she has received questions about how employees can stay motivated to do their work without getting bonuses.
She told her workers to focus on generating the $26 million (R470m) that the organisation is aiming for this year.
‘’Don’t ask about what are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus. Get the damn $26m. Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26m we need and not thinking about what you’re going to do if we don’t get a bonus,’’ she says.
She added that an old supervisor once told her that she may visit pity city once, but she could not live there. ‘’So people leave pity city, let’s get it done.’’
This video which has gone viral all over social media has seen Owen receive backlash and criticism. Some users accused her of being out-of-touch and caring more about profit than her workers.
She has since apologised via email to her staff. “I want to be transparent and empathetic, and as I continue to reflect on this instance, I feel terrible that my rallying cry seemed insensitive.
‘’What I’d hoped would energise the team to meet a challenge we have met many times before landed in a way that I did not intend and for that I am sorry.’’
Nothing, she continued, will diminish the power and strength of her united team. She expressed her gratitude to all her workers and said she will continue to do all that's in her power to assist in meeting common objectives.
‘’Thank you for your hard work, your grace, and for the commitment you show to one another and our company every single day,’’ she wrote.