‘Pity City’ Blues

April 26, 2023

This week, A CEO faces backlash after getting tough with her employees, workers do not use their PTO, and managing energy is more beneficial than managing time.

A CEO of a furniture company received a firestorm of backlash in reaction to comments she made to employees. The comments were delivered at a virtual company ‘Town Hall’ event. After a leaker released the video clip onto social media, users from all over the world went into a familiar place, uproar mode.

The outraged reaction to her comments are yet another example of a cultural shift where corporations and CEOs continue to be on the defensive.

Read more about this in the Deep Dive Section below.

In the News

No More Pity Party: CEO Andi Owen responded to multiple questions which employees submitted ahead of time about how to stay motivated without any forthcoming company bonuses.

Leave Pity City.

You can watch the clip here. It is short. (The Independent – via YouTube)

We live in reactionary times and as usual, the reaction was almost universally negative. (LinkedIn News)

Paid to Come Into the Office: Companies are paying up to $97,000 for employees to relocate so they can come back into the office instead of continuing to work remotely. (Business Insider – via MSN)

PT-No: According to research, only 46% of workers use all of their PTO. (Yahoo Finance)

  • Interestingly, 62% say they feel it is ‘extremely important’ to use their time off. 43% feel bad about their co-workers taking on additional work.
  • According to a study in 2019, as employees took more vacation days, the prevalence of metabolic symptoms decreased. (Psychology Today Journal)

The WHO estimates that deaths from heart disease related to working long hours increased by 42% from 2000 to 2016. (World Health Organization)

Other News

Record numbers of Americans no longer identify with either major political party. (Axios)

The Supreme Court is considering an employee’s right to refuse to work on Sundays for religious reasons. (Associated Press

  • The case is known as Groff v. DeJoy.

As employees purchase mouse jigglers to make it look like they are working, some say this is a symptom of larger trust issues between employees and employers. (HR Brew)

A Deeper Dive – The Pity City Blues

The dialogue around work has shifted dramatically in recent years. When I entered the professional work world about 10 years ago, the expectation was that you needed to do your job. Excuses didn’t matter. Poor performance meant that you would lose your job. 

This expectation still exists. However, thanks to an ongoing counter-cultural backlash against traditional, work-related, social norms and social media’s amplification of these sometimes extreme views, companies are scrutinized like never before.

When companies pull in large amounts of money, it is easy to point fingers and accuse them of greed. Highly compensated CEOs are public enemy number one. Many people with loud voices and the attitudes of activists believe that the mere appearance of defending a highly paid CEO who is critical of her employees is not only an act of gross insensitivity but a brazen effort to uphold a system that harms people.

It is time to cut through the outrage and find something more important, useful, and interesting to discuss.

Misplaced Aggression

When Andi Owen went into ‘CEO of at least 10 years ago’ mode, people noticed her word choice and tone. They did not like it.

See the video here and decide for yourself what you think.

“Don’t ask about what we are going to do if we don’t get a bonus. Get the damn $26 million dollars. Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million dollars we need and not thinking about what you are going to do if we don’t get a bonus.”

She went on. “Can I get some commitment on that? I would appreciate that.”

To some, her comments were refreshing, to others they were insensitive. Some may feel that they were a mix of both, as I do.

The Hidden Wisdom

There is a natural tension between the interests of executive leadership and mid-level employees. When a CEO calls upon her employees to stop whining, we should not be surprised. Employees whine a lot, especially nowadays.

Her words were candid and her tone was aggressive, but the emotion she conveyed is not unfounded. In previous generations, a job was viewed as your obligation as a citizen, it was your duty to contribute to the collective social whole, not to mention to your company.

Now a job is viewed as a necessary evil, an obstacle on the path of individual happiness. But with this increased focus, happiness has proven to be more elusive. Just look no further than the skyrocketing rates of mental illness. Perhaps a renaissance of the duty and obligation model would help place work in a more collectivist, rather than self-serving or individualist context.

A focus on serving others.

A focus on serving others and collective contribution takes the focus off of ourselves. It might even make us all happier because by definition people who are actively focused on others are choosing not to wallow in their own misery.

Lost in the discussion of this topic is the hidden wisdom behind Owen’s words. If we take the focus off of the outrage that media outlets and social media personalities want us to feel, we may recognize something. The ‘Pity City model’ of thinking is alive and well. You wouldn’t have a popular quiet quitting trend without this sort of thinking.

The sooner people leave Pity City, the better off and happier they will be. It is giving all of us the blues.

What I’m Reading

10 Steps to Successful Time Management Cyndi Maxey and Kevin O’Connor

Books with titles like these can be boring to read. And this was, at times. However, this book is relatively short and contains lots of wonderful advice. It is well worth reading. 

My personal favorite takeaway is to focus on management of your energy, rather than time. According to the authors, there are three ingredients to manage your energy. 

They are: your mindset, your preparation, and your courage. 

Get this book.

Quotes of the Week

“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.”

– Andi Owen 

And! …On a related ‘quote’…

“Do or do not, there is no try.” 

– Yoda

Articles of the Week

Here are 10 non-fiction books that are apparently so good that you are better off re-reading them instead of buying a new book that you haven’t read before. (Ayodeji Awosika – Medium)

How to get promoted at work. (Briefcase Coach)

Here are some quick tactics that you can implement immediately to improve time management. (Quartz)

We all know that our time on earth is limited, but  sometimes we forget, so occasionally we need to read articles like these as a reminder. (A Life in Progress)

From Deep Dive Careers: Forget about goals: this new year, try a system

Systems tend to direct focus and inspire action. Meanwhile, excessive goal planning tends to misdirect attention and waste time in the wrong places. 

Other Fun Stuff

Real life mind reading is the real next phase of artificial intelligence. (Wall Street Journal)

Dad Joke of the Week

Dada says: 

~ “ Why is it so important to act quickly during a flood?” ~

~ “It’s an emergent sea.” ~

*This post may contain affiliate links. These help financially support the Deep Dive Careers platform.

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