Is Starbucks’ Base Pay Increase Enough to Make a Difference?

July 22, 2016

starbucks signIf you’ve been in a Starbucks recently, you’ve probably noticed that the atmosphere feels more chaotic than calm. Overworked employees in understaffed stores are scrambling to concoct whichever seasonal Frappuccino has swept the nation as quickly as possible while customers and online orders via Starbucks’ app continually pour in. With fewer employees per shift manning the floor and a high demand for that crucial caffeine fix so many of us need to function, Starbucks has been accused by many of their current workers – or ‘partners’ as the coffee giant refers to them – of cutting back, when they should be expanding, in order to boost profits in the short term.

In an online petition created by tenured employee Jaime Prater, he calls for a change, claiming this lack of labor is hurting morale and customer satisfaction and preventing partners from earning enough money to afford basic necessities:

“Morale is at the lowest I’ve seen it in my nearly 9 years of service with Starbucks. Customers feel this the most, of anyone…If this is going to change, the corporate side of the company is going to have to understand that under employing people, while understaffing their stores is a recipe for disaster.”

In addition to understaffing its cafes, Starbucks has allegedly been limiting the number of hours that can be worked per shift, making it increasingly difficult for partners to obtain the health benefits Starbucks has prided itself on supplying in the past. Prater explains that “the labor climate keeps most baristas regularly underemployed, enough to qualify for benefits, but not enough to afford to pay for them.”

In response to the petition and various complaints from partners and customers, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz released a statement promising that beginning in October, “all partners and store managers in U.S. company-operated stores will receive an increase in base pay of 5% or greater” based on geographic location and other market factors. As far as scheduling concerns go, however, Schultz remained vague: “our field leaders are committed to make every effort to help you meet your specific scheduling needs especially when it comes to ensuring your benefits eligibility going forward.”

As times change and the ordering process evolves and becomes increasingly mobile-friendly, creating a higher number of orders partners must juggle during their shifts, it won’t be long before a 5% raise won’t be enough to balance a dwindling staff and hours available to work. When the time comes, Starbucks will need to be willing to make bigger changes going forward or risk a plummeting employee morale and unhappy customers.

Photo Credit: Paul Kelly

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