Starbucks Employees Miserable ... Just Like the Rest of Us

StarbucksThe benefits employees received at Starbucks were the stuff of legend. If you worked more than 20 hours a week, you'd get healthcare -- Starbucks spent $300 million, more than it spends on coffee, to give that to their baristas.

Vacation, decent pay, discounts, stock options, 401(k)s, you name it, Starbucks employees got it.

But now workers have noticed a change and are far less satisfied with their jobs.

Yeah, yeah, welcome to our world. We feel bad for you, we really do, but what also really concerns us is how is this going to affect our morning lattes ...


Most likely unhappier workers who will only be there a couple of months tops, much longer lines, annoyed patrons, and the inability to discern whether you're in a McDonald's or a Starbucks in terms of customer experience.

Perhaps though this will be a more welcome change in generally unhappy cities like New York. When a smiling, happy, cheery, laughing barista greets a New Yorker and tries to make polite small talk on a Monday morning, after said New Yorker rode in a crowded, sweltering subway then trudged three avenues to work in the pouring rain, the barista most likely will get punched. The once happy workers at Starbucks will now be as miserable as the rest of us.

Lisa Baertlein, who talked to baristas and managers and wrote up her report on Reuters, says that the mood among workers has shifted from providing a pleasant experience and high-quality coffee to sales and cost-cutting.

This "may be early signs of a culture change that could strike at the heart of what makes Starbucks Starbucks: that warm, fuzzy feeling stemming from its original commitments to the global community as well as its own healthy, happy staffers who provide service with a smile," she writes.

Other benefits slashed include:

• Lost their one and only personal day a year
• No longer can earn 40 hours of vacation in the first year
• Cut the maximum vacation hours after working two and three years in half to 40 hours
• Raised co-pays for office visits and medications
• Starting pay is getting closer to minimum wage and raises baristas get after their first six months are smaller

Starbucks told their employees to also focus more on quality, but that means taking longer for each customer, and it can create an "assembly-line feel" for the workers. It's gone from neighborhood coffee shop, where the baristas remembered customers' orders and exchanged pleasantries every day, to just another chain looking to cut costs at the expense of the employees.

On the other hand, the company's fourth quarter net income nearly doubled. Slashing benefits did help Starbucks save money, and it doesn't seem like they'll be giving back these benefits anytime soon to their employees, preferring the higher turnover and sacrificing their job satisfaction.

But, hey, as long as the investors are happy and Starbucks is making a profit, that's truly all that matters.

Have you noticed a different experience at Starbucks? Are you surprised they cut benefits for their employees yet made such a high profit last quarter?


Image via idogcow/Flickr


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