Jennifer Roxburgh knows firsthand that having a flexible work schedule is critical for military spouses.
“My husband was in the Army and would consistently deploy. It was my job to make life easier and keep everything settled on the home front,” she said. “My career plans for being a nurse took a back seat.”
She held a variety of jobs including being an on-call firefighter and a lifeguard instructor as relocations required moves from California to Georgia to New York. With a young daughter to care for, Roxburgh landed her first job at Starbucks in New York and found comfort in the friendships she built there with fellow baristas.
“It is single parenting when your spouse deploys,” she explained. “Unlike most people, you don’t always have your extended family around you for support. Starbucks was there for me.”
Roxburg is one of the nearly 1,200 spouses of armed forces members who have joined Starbucks since the company announced its military hiring commitment in 2013. Starbucks plans to hire at least 10,000 veterans, reservists and military spouses by the end of 2018. To date, Starbucks has hired about 3,700 and one third are military spouses.
"Nothing will support our military more today than hiring our talented military spouses who want and need to work outside the home,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO for Blue Star Families. “Starbucks is one of few companies focused on military spouses, as well as veterans. We are proud to partner with Starbucks to help them achieve their goals."
Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization Starbucks works with, was formed by a group of military spouses. Their goal is to create a platform where military family members can join with civilian communities and leaders to address the challenges of military life.
The Challenge for Military Spouses
May 8, 2015 is U.S. Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which takes place annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Starbucks is proud on this day, and every day, to honor the military spouses who work for the company, as well as the nearly 1.2 million spouses of Armed Forces members around the world.
The unemployment rate for U.S. military spouses is about 15 percent, according to the Department of Defense, compared with the national average of 5.5 percent. A major challenge for military spouses is maintaining a job when there is a frequent need to relocate. It's estimated that in a 20 year military career, a service member will have to relocate 8 times.
Roxburgh moved quickly up the ranks at Starbucks. All was well until she learned her husband had received orders to move – again. This time the family was off to Colorado Springs.
“When I told my manager the news, I burst into tears,” Roxburgh recalled. “I didn’t want to leave Starbucks. I loved my job.”
Roxburgh’s manager didn’t want her to leave the company either. He helped her submit for a transfer and soon Roxburgh had a Starbucks job lined up in Colorado Springs. From there, she continued her ascent in the company. Today, she is a store manager in a growing location outside of Fort Carson, the largest military installation in the area. Roxburgh empathizes with and provides guidance for the partners (employees) in her store who are either military spouses or live with a military family member.
While veterans and military spouses say Starbucks flexible scheduling is key for them, other benefits include: affordable health care; Starbucks stock, called Bean Stock; a 401(k) match of 4 percent; full tuition coverage to finish a bachelor’s degree online at Arizona State University through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan; free food and beverage benefits while on shift and a free pound of coffee per week.
Military Spouses Volunteer and Lead
The most recent lifestyle survey by Blue Star Families found that a majority of military spouses are involved with their communities. About 66 percent volunteer in their communities – a characteristic Starbucks values.
Joseph Poor is a store manager and military spouse in San Antonio, Texas. Poor’s store is next to a military base, outside Fort Sam Houston, where 60 percent of the client base has a military affiliation.
“I want my store to represent the customers who visit us,” said Poor. “My goal is to hire more military spouses as well as veterans and reservists.”
Poor regularly participates in local job fairs where he helps potential partners understand the career possibilities at Starbucks.
“Starbucks provides a great opportunity to grow as an individual and make connections in a new place that may not be familiar to you,” he said. “If you need to relocate, chances are that wherever your military orders lead you, there’s a Starbucks® location there needing a new partner.”
To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Poor plans to join his fellow partners in decorating their store.
Jennifer Roxburgh also plans to coordinate a small party in her store to commemorate the day with partners and customers. She added, “I want to do something that let’s everyone know that we’re here and proud to be part of the military community.”
Read more Starbucks veterans stories here: Paying Tribute and Creating Opportunity