Starbucks Announces New Partner Experience Investments

Starbucks continuously engages in discussions with its partners (employees) to determine how to make their experience better and more valuable.

Starbucks chief operating officer Troy Alstead shared the letter below with all U.S. partners to describe the first phase in a series of investments the company is making in the partner experience – changes that were shaped by Starbucks partners’ feedback.

Dear U.S. partners,

We recognize that creating the best possible experience for you must be our number one priority if we are to successfully fulfill our long-term ambition of building one of the world’s most trusted and admired companies. A big part of that means continually investing in a partner experience that reflects Our Mission and Values, where you feel valued, respected and heard.

Last month, I asked for your input through the Starbucks Partners Facebook page about specific ways to invest in the partner experience. Over the past several weeks, we have read through nearly 3,000 thoughtful comments and ideas. Building upon this direct, unfiltered feedback, I am pleased to share the first set of detailed plans we are taking as part of a multi-year commitment to invest in the partner experience. As I’ve shared earlier, this work has begun in the U.S. and will extend to international markets in a locally relevant way, in time.

Join me and Cliff Burrows to continue this discussion on Monday, October 20 from 10 to 11 a.m. Pacific on Twitter, using the hashtag #sbuxpartnerchat.

Making an Appearance: Updated Dress Code Policy

The partner experience is not just one thing; it’s about creating a warm and inviting third place environment where you can be yourself. We want every expression of the brand to be as thoughtful as our heritage and caring around coffee. As partners, your appearance is a reflection of the Starbucks brand and how you show up collectively is important to our customers. At the same time, we want to build a company where self-expression, empowerment and inclusion are nurtured. With this balance in mind, and with your thoughtful feedback, we have updated our dress code. In our updated Dress Code policy, effective October 20, visible tattoos, colored ties and neck scarves, and black denim are allowed. There are also new jewelry guidelines for food safety. Read more about these changes in the Dress Code Guidelines.

Pay and Benefits Investments & Creating Pathways to Opportunity

We’ve always believed that success is best when shared and doing what is right for you is also good for business. For more than two decades our pay and benefits programs have reflected our commitment to take care of you and your families – by offering comprehensive health insurance to full-and part-time partners, 401(k) matching, Bean Stock, and most recently our Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

In January 2015, we will begin rolling out the first phase of a multi-year investment in the partner experience by making enhancements in three areas: performance and pay, recognition and benefits.

Pay Rates. We will invest in attracting new partners by increasing our start rates in all U.S. markets starting in January. The new rates will ensure we are paying a competitive wage that better positions us to attract and keep the best partners.

Also in January, all baristas and shift supervisors will receive a pay increase. Experienced partners who are at or above their range will be eligible for a lump sum increase, so your earnings continue to grow along with your tenure. Going forward, whether you’ve been with us one year or 10 years, pay will be reviewed and communicated annually, and all baristas and shift supervisors will now be on an annual pay review cycle or may be eligible for a lump sum equivalent.

Because each partner’s pay package is personal and will differ depending on position and market, individual partners will get specific details about what this means for them from their manager beginning early 2015.

Development and Recognition. We know you work hard every day to deliver the Starbucks Experience and we want to recognize you for it. In addition to our ongoing recognition programs and promotional opportunities, beginning in January we are making enhancements to how we develop and support your aspirations in the following ways:

  • You will have more time with your manager to have conversations about your store, personal goals and career aspirations including performance and development.
  • We will recognize partners who are exceeding expectations with a Barista Trainer premium and the opportunity to be one of more than 28,000 Partners of the Quarter we will celebrate each year with a bonus!
  • And, to focus on what matter most, the development conversation, we have eliminated performance review forms and ratings for baristas and shift supervisors.

Food Benefit. We want you to explore and enjoy our food offerings including La Boulange in the same way you do our beverages. Over the next five years we aspire to double our food business and to make this possible we need to improve your food experience. Starting in January, U.S. store partners can choose one free food item, per shift, from the pastry or ready-to-eat case.

Now, along with food, partner beverages, coffee mark-out and automatic My Starbucks Rewards Gold level status with a registered partner card, you can save money both on and off your shift.

This is just the beginning. I look forward to sharing more with you next month as we announce our annual Bean Stock grant and Future Roast savings match, provide an update on our Veterans Initiative as well as support for the CUP (Caring Unites Partners) Fund.

Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and one another is core to who we are. In my 23 years as a partner, I could not be more proud of your passion, engagement and commitment to get us to this point. Thank you.

Cliff and I hope these investments in your experience make you feel valued and proud to be a partner.


Troy Alstead

chief operating officer