A commitment to always do what’s best for partners, customers and communities is at the core of Starbucks Canada’s business philosophy. And since the industry first began navigating COVID-19, Starbucks has taken several actions to protect the health and well-being of its employees.
“All decisions have been grounded in partner (employee) and customer care and safety, based on facts and science, and communicated with transparency,” says Cara Beck, vice-president, Partner Resources for Starbucks Canada. “Throughout the past two years, we invested in COVID-19 safety measures and supports, including paid time-off to all store partners to get their vaccine, COVID-19 sick-day pay, vaccine side-effect pay, catastrophe pay and self-isolation pay.”
This commitment extends to employee mental health as well. Starbucks has long held the belief that all employees — including part-time employees — deserve benefits that support their total well-being and the company was a trailblazer in providing increased mental-health coverage, boosting the annual limit to $5,000 per year for partners in Canada in 2016.
“Partner care is at our core and we’re committed to eliminating the stigma around mental health while providing ongoing resources and support,” says Beck. “We were among the first companies to expand the list of mental-health practitioners for partners to include social worker, registered psychologist, registered psychotherapist, clinical counsellor, registered professional counsellor and more.”
With staffing and retention challenges due to the pandemic, Beck says “now, more than ever, we provide our partners with great benefits to ensure they know that we care.”
Starbucks also offers employees and their families access to LifeWorks EAP, a leading digital-wellness platform and app that offers a suite of mental, financial, physical and lifestyle wellness services. The company has also invested in mental-health-fundamentals training for store managers by the National Council for Behavioral Health, which teaches employees the skills to listen for, recognize and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use and equips them with the tools to guide their teams at any stage of a mental-health crisis.
Throughout the pandemic, Starbucks has continued to invest in its staff and recently raised its hourly starting wage to be $1 above provincial minimum wage in Canada. It also raised tenured hourly employee wages by at least six per cent. These investments represented a 11-per-cent increase in incremental annual wages and benefits for retail hourly partners in the last 12 months.
“Starbucks has long held the belief that partners deserve competitive pay plus leading benefits that support their total well-being,” says Beck. “All partners, even on their first day as a barista, are entitled to many of the supports and perks Starbucks offers. Additionally, all partners who work a minimum of 20 hour per week are entitled to benefits, including medical and dental coverage, a $5,000 mental-health benefit, up to $1,000 in tuition reimbursement per year, RRSP Future Savings Plan, and Bean Stock, which gives Starbucks partners an opportunity to share in the financial success of the company through shares of Starbucks stock.”
Starbucks Canada was named to the 2022 Forbes Canada’s Best Employers list and according to Beck, the company’s commitment to creating a diverse and welcoming workplace is why so many people want to work there.
“We’re committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome. We have several partner networks, like the Pride Partner Network and Pan-Asian Partner Network, that support diverse communities and their needs and are adding more networks like NEXT, which is focused on partner and career development. In conjunction with the Black Business Professional Association, we funded and launched a national mentorship program for Black youth and we are currently working with MENTOR Canada on Indigenous mentoring.”
Starbucks has also resumed its Opportunity for All Youth program in Canada to prioritize training and hiring of young people ages 16 to 29 who have a strong desire to work but are facing various systemic barriers to employment.
“As our CEO has shared, ‘our best days are in front of us,’ and we’re committed to listening and learning from our partners to help re-build our future and co-create the best Starbucks for our partners, customers and communities we serve.”
By Amy Bostock