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Starbucks – They’re at it again

Just over a year ago I wrote about how Starbucks was leading the way in the corporate values arena. In the post I discussed the details of their supposedly failed #racematters effort. Something that seems even more relevant today than it did then. And for the record, I don’t feel like it was a failed effort, but that’s another story. In investigating the post I discovered how much Starbucks proactively does for their employees. From paying above minimum wage to higher education programs, employee stock options and more.

Well, they’re at it again. Just yesterday they announced that they will be giving store employees and managers at least a 5% annual raise and they will be doubling their stock awards for employees with two or more years with the company. So while others are debating whether or not you should increase your employees overall compensation Starbucks is once again leading the way.

Recruiting and retaining employees in today’s marketplace is difficult. Starbucks has created an environment that relies on more than just financial compensation to attract and retain. As my colleague Elizabeth wrote a few weeks back, 67% of employees would like a better work life balance (trumping compensation) and 86% of Millennials report that they would leave a job if they found out their employer’s culture and values don’t match their own.


So you say, but Rob, I’m a CMO, an entrepreneur, a Brand Manager – not in HR – why should I care? You care because recruiting, training and retaining employees is hard work. Without your team you’re not going to get a whole lot done. Making sure they feel challenged, mentally stimulated and are experiencing growth is important. But so is making sure they feel like what they are doing is worthwhile and that they are being fairly compensated for their efforts.

In some recent work we uncovered a few insights to think about as you put strategies in place to develop and reward your team. Remember that your traditional benefits of health insurance, vacation time, etc. are just table stakes. While important, they won’t persuade someone to join or stay with your team over someone else’s. Your company needs a strong vision and people need to feel like they are doing meaningful work. If your core product or service doesn’t inherently have this, and fair to say all won’t, include it in some other form. Creating programs that give back will create unity and help them feel like they are contributing to a greater good.

Work life balance is important too. While there will always be times when you need the team to put forth an extra effort for one project or another be sure you are also giving them some time to reflect and recharge. Taking a step back and gaining perspective is healthy and will help them bring new and bigger ideas to the table.

The values that Starbucks demonstrates are without a doubt Conscious Consumer based. They put forth the greater good and turn words into action. They are not just corporate puffery. They’re real. And while they will continue to receive criticisms in part because of their size, I’m also confident that they will continue to lead and give us all a model to follow.

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