Employees Percolate at Starbucks

There may be a culture crisis brewing at Starbucks. A Reuters story posted on MSNBC.com today reported that despite record earnings announced yesterday (86% profit gain!), Starbucks baristas around the country are complaining about a change in corporate culture. They believe cost cutting and an emphasis on “selling stuff” is changing Starbucks into McDonald’s instead of the “anti-McDonald’s.” So what happens when a company that previously took care of its staff gets so large and rich that this nurturing falls by the wayside? To their credit, the company is giving bonuses to 100,000 empl0yees around the world, but to many longtime employees,  money may not be the issue. Do you think Starbucks will address this perceived change with its disgruntled employees, or simply let them leave?

By the way, crisis communications is one of 11 hot topics covered at our How-To Conference in D.C. on Dec. 1, and coffee will be served. I hope to see you there.

–Scott Van Camp

  • Judith Copeland


    Who can predict what companies will do? However, if they value reputation management, as they seem to through their social media efforts to customers, they may want to stop the up-selling pressure and neglecting of staff nurture, and return to what made it a good place to work. If they become like many other companies, it gives rise for opportunities for others in the same market that can provide a unique experience. Relationships matter and bad employer/employee relationships get translated to the customer in a variety of ways. In PR, when companies get bad reputations, it will impact the bottom line. It may not be in coffee sales but in the costs of training and hiring if employees look elsewhere. People all too often underestimate how valuable employee retention is. IMHO

  • PR broadcast

    If money and cost cutting are not the actual issues, Starbucks has to seriously examine how it can incorporate the goal of “selling staff” with the corporate culture that made till today the employees happy.

    Starbucks is a company that for most people around the world is associated with the casual, cool, relaxed and friendly urban style. Many of us go everyday to work with a coffee from Starbucks in hand. During these difficult times- especially in Europe, its very annoying for working people to feel that a company is not “fair” with its employees. Starbucks has to act immediately and save its reputation before the actual crisis comes.