J.C. Penney Hires Therapist To Boost Employee Morale

The therapist, brought in to help J.C. Penney employees deal with the company’s traumatic year, reportedly offended workers by comparing the company’s last 17 months to the 9/11 attacks.

J.C. Penney has had a tough year: Its revenues dropped by 25%; it fired its disastrous CEO, ex-Appler Ron Johnson; and it took some heat for a tea kettle bearing an uncanny resemblance to Hitler. Things have been so bad that the company recently felt it necessary to make a public apology in the form of an ad.


Its staff was understandably upset about the upper management shenanigans and the company’s misfortune, so J.C. Penney’s chief merchant brought in an organizational therapist to speak at the May monthly meeting in the merchandizing division. That’s where everything went downhill.

According to Buzzfeed, the company’s chief merchant, Liz Sweney, equated the experience of working at J.C. Penney over the last year to surviving a bomb explosion. The therapist then showed a short film called Boatlift, a traumatic, gritty documentary about the evacuation of lower Manhattan by boat after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The idea was to ask J.C. Penney’s staff members to choose their own right direction for their future at work, but according to Buzzfeed, employees found the presentation more offensive than inspiring.

About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise.