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CEO Apologizes After Telling Employees Not To Ask About Bonuses and 'Leave Pity City' The CEO and President of furniture company MillerKnoll delivered a harsh message to employees during a town hall.

By Madeline Garfinkle

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Andi Owen, the CEO and president of office furniture company MillerKnoll, told employees during a meeting in late March to "leave pity city" after being asked how to stay motivated during challenging times, Vice first reported.

"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," Owen said in a video that has since circulated online.

Owen also told employees not to ask about bonuses — instead, worry about getting the deal done.

Related: Google CEO Warns Employees of Hiring Slowdown and Tells Staff to be More 'Entrepreneurial'

"Get the damn $26 million," she said. "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?"

Following the media attention, Owen apologized to staff on Tuesday, saying that she understands her language may have come across as "insensitive."

"What I'd hoped would energize the team to meet a challenge we've met many times before landed in a way that I did not intend and for that I am sorry," Owen wrote to her staff over email, per Vice.

"My appreciation for each of you is huge and I will continue to do everything I can to help us meet our shared goals," she added.

Over the past three years, MillerKnoll stock has fallen nearly 40% as of Tuesday afternoon. The company announced about 160 permanent layoffs with the closure of one of its manufacturing plants in Wisconsin earlier this month.

The furniture industry experienced record low demand in 2021 and the manufacturing sector fell for the fourth consecutive month in February, according to Furniture Today. Although MillerKnoll does not exclusively sell office furniture, it has been a focal point of the business since its inception — which, considering office closures during and following the pandemic, could contribute to the decline in revenue.

While the MillerKnoll fiscal year has not yet concluded and the status bonuses (including for Owen) have yet to be announced, Owen received bonuses of $1.29 million in 2022 and $1.12 million in 2021, Vice reported.

Related: Honda Overpaid Employee Bonuses — And Then Asked for the Extra Cash Back

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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