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CEO who made $5M last year tells employees asking for more money to "leave Pity City"

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Andi Owen, CEO of furniture company MillerKnoll, took home about $5 million in compensation in 2022, about $1.3M of which came from a performance-based bonus. In a recent company-wide Zoom call, Owen answered some questions from her employees. One worker in particular raised the concern of, "How can we stay motivated if we're not going to get a bonus…What can we do? What can we do?"

Owen's response was … certainly an interesting strategy in employee motivation:

Don't ask about: What are we going to do if we don't get a bonus? Get the damn $26 million [company goal]. Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need and not thinking about what you're going to do if you don't get a bonus. Alright? Can I get some commitment for that?I would appreciate that.


I had an old boss who said to me one time, 'You can visit pity city, but you can't live there.' So people, leave pity city. Let's get it done.

According to Vice, Owen's company has struggled a bit in the wake of office investment changes brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic:

This has led to  "a period of disruption," as MillerKnoll itself recently put it, which led Herman Miller to acquire Knoll, one of its top competitors, in 2021 for $1.8 billion and form newly created MillerKnoll to better weather the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Knoll's then-CEO stepped down as a result of the transaction, placing Owen, then CEO of Herman Miller, in charge of the newly formed furniture giant. 

Since then, Owen has tried to cut costs in a variety of ways as the share price plunged—the company announced earlier this month that it would close a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin and lay off 162 employees—and otherwise shifted its focus to  "more hybrid, collaborative work environments" and online sales. 

The company has since issued a statement on the video, saying, "Andi fiercely believes in this team and all we can accomplish together, and will not be dissuaded by a 90-second clip taken out of context and posted on social media."


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