After denying employee pay raises, the CEO who made $5M last year faces outrage 2023

In a March town hall meeting, the CEO of a large office furniture manufacturer told her employees to “get out of the mindset of self-pity.” She was asked about bonuses amid a difficult time for the company and industry. Her statements went viral online.

MillerKnoll CEO and president Andi Owen answered questions, some of which she called “not so nice,” regarding how staff could stay engaged despite the uncertainty of a bonus.

Owen advised the employees to focus on things they could control, like customer service and kindness.

Owen suddenly became agitated and gesticulated wildly.

“Don’t inquire about ‘What if we don’t get a bonus?'” she said. Instead, focus on meeting the $26 million goal. She muttered that she appreciated their dedication to their aim. The business kept the $26 million threshold private.

She shared a crucial supervisor lesson. “An ex-boss told me, ‘You may visit pity city, but you can’t dwell there.’ “Let’s leave pity city and focus on our goals,” she said, wishing everyone a great day.

Owen made the comment at the close of a 75-minute town hall meeting on industry trends, product launches, and brand marketing. Her statements offended some employees, causing Owen to send a message to colleagues and meet with corporate leaders.

MillerKnoll’s fiscal year hasn’t ended, thus employee and Owen bonuses haven’t been decided. Despite this, the video footage went viral, sparking indignation. A firm spokeswoman said the clip didn’t show the meeting’s generally good setting.

“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,” MillerKnoll spokesman Kris Marubio told Motherboard.

Since the epidemic, MillerKnoll, which makes Aeron, Mirra, and Eames lounge chairs, has struggled. As companies adopted the hybrid work model, they bought fewer pricey office chairs.

Owen received bonuses of $1.29 million in 2020 and $1.12 million in 2021 for her work.

In a March earnings call, Owen said typical workplace practices and layouts are less important. As corporations downsized their offices, they inundated the secondary market with lower-priced, pre-owned products, thus cutting demand for new products.

The COVID-19 epidemic has caused “disruption,” requiring Herman Miller to buy Knoll for $1.8 billion in 2021 and merge it with MillerKnoll to adapt. Owen, the former Herman Miller CEO, became Knoll’s CEO after the merger.

Owen closed a Wisconsin production site, eliminating 162 jobs, to save costs after the share price fell. The corporation now prioritizes “hybrid, collaborative work environments” and internet sales.

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About the Author: Sanjh Vishwakarma

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