The Program that Turned Employees Into Partners Continues to Change Lives

Bean Stock is one of the landmark initiatives at the cornerstone of Starbucks culture, and Starbucks partners (employees) can sometimes use the benefit in life-changing ways. In Germany, a nurse and part-time barista is using her stock in Starbucks to pay for kidney dialysis treatments of patients in Nepal.

“I’ve seen people dying because they couldn’t afford medical care,” said Kirsten Bothe, a partner since 2007. “That’s the reason why I opened this account, so the money I get from Bean Stock can be used for urgent cases in Nepal. As the old Nepalese saying goes, ‘Sharing is fortune for everybody.’”

In 1988, Starbucks extended comprehensive health coverage for eligible part- and full-time workers at a time when most companies were not doing so. Then in 1991, Starbucks introduced Bean Stock which turned eligible Starbucks employees into partners by providing the opportunity to share in the financial success of the company through Starbucks stock.

Bean Stock was the first program of its kind in the retail industry. It encouraged partners to act like owners of the business and share in the company’s success. The program started with 700 partners in just over 100 stores in the U.S. and Canada. The first stock options were granted at $6 per share ($0.19 adjusted for subsequent stock splits) to partners.

“With Bean Stock’s introduction, we turned every employee of Starbucks into a partner,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks president, chairman and ceo, wrote in his first book Pour Your Heart Into It. “I wanted them to have a chance to share in the benefits of growth, and to make clear the connection between their contributions and the growing value of the company.”

Today, some Starbucks partners have used their Bean Stock for a down payment on houses or for once-in-a-lifetime trips.

In New York, an eight-year partner named Marisa was able to purchase a car. Store manager, Roseanne Halverson, described her as someone who has “a wonderful passion for taking care of both partners and customers.

"Marisa is truly an amazing partner,” said Halverson. “One day she told me that it was time for her to buy a new car, but she did not know how she was going to do it. After activating her account, Marisa found that she had over $17,000 in her account. Now she knows how she will purchase the car she needs. It was so rewarding to see her joy and truly understanding the possibilities that being a Starbucks partner provides.”

Today, Starbucks continues to be one of the only retailers to offer a stock program that includes eligible part-time retail employees. In fiscal 2013, partners enjoyed over $234 million in pre-tax gains from Bean Stock, with more than 125,000 eligible Starbucks store and non-executive partners in 21 markets eligible for the most recent grant in November 2013. Since the program’s inception, partners have received more than $1 billion thanks to Bean Stock.

Last year Starbucks also invested $250 million in healthcare benefits for eligible full and part-timers, shared $234 million in pre-tax stock gains with partners, and matched $50 million in 401(k) contributions.

“The equity of the Starbucks brand has been built by the experience, which comes to life through our partners and the relationships they have with our customers,” Schultz said during the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. “At a time when many companies are cutting benefits, we are continuing to invest in our most important assets: our people.”

About Bean Stock

Starbucks introduced Bean Stock in 1991, providing the opportunity to share in the financial success by awarding equity in the form of stock options. In 2010, Bean Stock was redesigned to reward partners with restricted stock units. An RSU gives partners the right to receive shares of Starbucks stock after a specified period of time (also known as vesting). When the RSU grant vests, partners receive actual shares of Starbucks stock. Starbucks partners in company-owned markets are eligible to receive Bean Stock if they are employed at Starbucks as of May 1 of the fiscal year preceding the grant date, have been paid at least 360 hours over the entire fiscal year, and are in a position up to but not including the director level.

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That’s a wrap! Tribeca Festival + Starbucks collab connects storytellers and film lovers over coffee