CEO Praises Employee Who Gave Up Family Dog To Return To The Office & Challenges Staff To 'Out Work' Him

Many people online criticized the CEO for forcing his staff to prioritize their job over every other important aspect of their lives.

CEO James Clarke, dog Reddit / 4 PM Production / Shutterstock 

America's rise-and-grind work culture is often considered one of the most competitive, fast-paced, and pressurizing in the world. There is a strong emphasis on productivity and efficiency, and people are expected to work hard and strive to achieve their goals—often at the expense of their personal goals.

Work-life balance can feel non-existent thanks to the pressure to perform at work. Some people are so dedicated to their jobs that they will make unimaginable sacrifices to ensure they keep them. 


After a Utah-based company required employees to return to the office, one employee ultimately had to give up their family dog, a decision the company’s CEO praised them for. However, others had different reactions. 

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Clearlink CEO James Clarke praised his employee for choosing work over his dog. 

James Clarke is the CEO of Clearlink, a digital marketing, sales conversion, and technology company headquartered in Salt Lake City Utah. 

Many Clearlink employees had the option to work remotely from home, an opportunity that was convenient for them and made it possible to work in the first place. After originally assuring his staff that he had “no plans” to mandate in-office work as late as October, employees were shocked to learn that “circumstances had changed” and that some of them would no longer be allowed to work remotely. 


On April 3, Clarke sent a company-wide email instructing those who worked within a 50-mile radius of the company’s new headquarters in Draper, Utah to come into the office four days a week beginning April 17. The mandate applies to around 35% of the company and approximately 275 employees. 



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The decision made by Clarke was intended to improve the company’s performance amid a “challenging” environment. 


In a virtual town hall meeting, he cracked down on his employees to increase their normal productivity, admitted to firing those who had not opened their laptops for a month, and encouraged workers to come into the office and give their “blood, sweat, and tears” to the company. 

Clarke also took time to recognize an employee who was forced to make a heartbreaking decision in order for them to be able to come into the office. 

“I learned from one of our leaders that in the midst of hearing this message went out and sold their family dog,” he revealed. Clarke claims that the employee’s decision “breaks his heart” as someone who has “been at the head of the humanization in pets movement” in other businesses he has contributed to. However, he praised the employee for their “sacrifice” and noted that it is these sacrifices that must be made in order for the company to thrive. 

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Additionally, Clarke expressed skepticism over single parents, particularly mothers, who were working full-time while being primary caregivers to their children. 

He feared that they would be unable to give their all to their work if they also had multiple responsibilities. 

“I do believe that only the rarest of full-time caregivers can also be productive and full-time employees at the same time,” Clarke said. He argued that having a full-time position while being a primary caregiver is “neither fair to your employer nor fair to those children.” 

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Clarke further defined his in-office mandate by sharing the progress he has viewed thus far in employees who are working in person. 


“I’ve spoken with many people who have returned to office on a regular basis already and they have mentioned how much more they are producing with their teams,” he says. “I encourage each of you to approach this return with an open mind and how you can use it to be even more productive and to benefit your career.” 

Despite Clarke’s intention to motivate employees to work harder, many people online called him out for forcing his staff to prioritize their job over every other important aspect of their lives. Many pointed out that working remotely was the only way some individuals could even work in the first place, especially if they are primary caregivers in their families and they should not be stripped of the opportunity to work remotely. 

Other people criticized Clarke for undermining single parents' ability to work and expecting them to place their job above everything else. 


Prioritizing work over family and personal life can lead to various negative consequences, such as burnout, stress, and relationship issues. While working is undoubtedly an essential part of life, no employee should be expected to give up a beloved member of their family just to keep their job. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.