When I started at Starbucks a couple months back, a common question I got from my family and friends was, “Why don’t you work at a local coffee shop?” My family has been very supportive of local businesses ever since I can remember. The actual reason I initially applied at Starbucks was because I was laid off and just needed a job to pay my bills until I graduated. I never thought I would experience such an amazing company in the amount of time that I have spent there. In the following I will describe what makes Starbucks such an amazing company to work for during college.
Background on Starbucks
The very first Starbucks opened in 1972 in downtown Seattle, Washington. This was a single store in the historic Pike Place Market. In 1981, the now CEO Howard Schultz walked in for the first time and was instantly drawn to the cafe, and wanted to be a part of this company. This was the beginning of a coffee revolution. Starbucks set out to be a different kind of coffee company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection. Their mission turned to inspire and nurture the human spirit, by one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Free Online College
Yes, you read that right. Starbucks will pay your tuition to attend ASU online and earn a bachelor’s degree in over eighty different programs. This includes programs from business, engineering, teaching, computer science and much more. There are only two requirements an employee must do to be eligible. The first is one must be an employee of at least three months. The second is one must work twenty hours a week. I wish I would have known this before taking out student loans to attend the University of Montana. I will be paying off my student loans for quite awhile, especially with my industry crashing after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Starbucks launched this program, Starbucks College Achievement Plan, about six years ago. The CEO stated that over 70% of his employees did not have a college education, and wanted to change that. College seems out of reach for a lot of people, mostly due to how expensive it is. Only half of Americans who begin college today will actually finish according to the U.S. Department of Education, largely due to financial and work and life barriers This program gives their employees a greater opportunity to expand their education and career goals. You can work at Starbucks for four years for a tuition free education and leave, and Howard Shultz is okay with that!
Focusing on Health, Including Mental Health
As an employee of Starbucks, you are given the option to opt into a health coverage plan. This includes coverage for medical, dental, and vision. Along with health coverage, your benefit options at Starbucks include life insurance, disability coverage, vacation, tuition reimbursement, employee assistance, commuter benefits, adoption assistance and more. The benefits that Starbucks offers to their full time and part times employees is amazing. There is a program that Starbucks created themselves called the CUP Fund. When an employee gets a discounted drink when they are off, they have the option to round up to the next whole dollar. These pennies that are donated add up fast and are put into a large ‘CUP Fund’. The CUP Fund is a financial assistance program that helps Starbucks partners who experience a financial crisis resulting from an illness, the death of a partner or family member, or natural disaster or other extreme circumstances. The employee is eligible at any time to apply for this financial assistance.
Starbucks also offers their employees, and a friend or family of the employee, ten free therapy sessions of therapy a year, each. This wellness program provides tools and information to help partners learn about their health and wellness and offers suggestions to maintain and improve overall health. Employees can go to any therapist in the network for free. Starbucks believes that mental health is a very important thing and gives the employees an opportunity to focus on their mental health.
Perk for Partners
Starbucks gives their employees plenty of perks while on and off shift. While you are working, you can have up to four free coffees a shift and any(1) food item of their choice. Employees are also eligible to receive a free coffee or tea “mark-out” every week. Each week, one may select one pound of whole bean coffee or tea, for free. When employees are off shift they get 30% off all store purchases including drinks, food, and store merchandise.
The Political Environment
Starbucks is a welcoming community for all, especially the LGBTQ community. The company has been very outspoken about their views and have become a very large ally in the community. They can contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to foundations that call for equal treatment. Starbucks has a 100 out of 100 for the first time on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, an initiative administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on corporate policies and practices. They are also one of the largest contributors to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.
Handling a Global Pandemic
Starbucks has been great to work for, especially during this pandemic. Starbucks truly values all their employees. During this pandemic of Covid-19, they have been nothing but helpful to their employees. One of the biggest things Starbucks offered their employees was one of two options. The first option is taking a paid time off for the remainder of this pandemic. This means the employee would receive their bi-weekly average for the remainder of this unknown time. The second option is continue working with a three dollar an hour raise. Many employees did not feel safe or comfortable at work which was fine with the company, and they compromised in the best way possible with such short notice.
Another great way they are handling this pandemic and help their employees in by expanding the meal and drink perks. Instead of just free food and drink while on shift, they have now offered one free meal and drink while off shift. They also extended the discount of the rest of the order to 60% off. This was an incredible way to help employees with these hardships.
The last and one of the greatest ways Starbucks has expanded their employee benefits is with the therapy sessions. Starbucks is now offering twenty, double than before, free therapy sessions to employees and one friend or family of choice during quarantine and lockdown orders. They also expanded their therapy sessions to online sessions, so you do not have to leave the house. Starbucks recognized the mental struggles that people go through when you cannot leave the house and wanted to reach out and help. You can now apply online through the employee hub for virtual therapy sessions.
Extra: Upstanders Program
Upstanders is a collection of short stories that asks what it means to have courage in today’s America. Produced by CEO Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Upstanders help inspire us to be better citizens. One of the stories was focused on a Missoula project that helped save Syria refugees. Mary Poole, a Missoula native, was taken about by the civil war in Syria and wanted to help the refugees seeking safety. Her persistence made Missoula the first city in Montana to participate in the state department resettlement program. These stories that Starbucks feature help shed light on courageous people that went above and beyond for others. This foundation donates $25,000 grand to each story they cover, including Mary Poole’s Soft Landing Program.
Starbucks currently has over 30,000 stores world wide. It currently has a $22.38 billion revenue figure which is almost 7.5 times that of the nearest competitor, Tim Hortons. Starbucks is now a world icon and you can recognize its logo instantly. A third of its locations are currently located overseas. It was growing so fast that it is estimated that between 1987 and 2007, Starbucks opened an average of two stores every day!
Starbucks continuously lands itself on Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work For list. Starbucks values each employee and realizes each barista is the reason their company is so successful today. When I work at Starbuck, I feel like a valued part of the team, not just another number. I have never worked for a company that wants to give me so many opportunities and skills to grow myself outside of the company. Next time you drive by a Starbucks, know that the money you spend there is also being filtered back into the employee benefits.