- Starbucks launched a pilot version of an app designed to create a “community” for its 270,000 employees across company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada, Frank Britt, Starbucks EVP and chief strategy officer, said during the company’s Q4 2022 earnings call on Nov. 3.
- This tech investment is part of a larger push to enhance workers’ experiences and benefits, Britt said.
- “Reinvention investments are already having a measurable positive impact on our business and operations, most notably in terms of improved [employee] retention, increased speed of service and an elevated customer experience,” said Howard Schultz, interim CEO at Starbucks, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript.
The workforce focus comes as Starbucks faces backlash over its treatment of employees and working conditions, including the chain’s exclusion of union members from new benefits.
Starbucks employees have held strikes at multiple stores in the last 12 months, the longest of which concerned a July 11 policy on minimum employee availability that ended after 64 days. In October, eight unionized Starbucks employees filed a lawsuit against Starbucks and their store manager for defamation and abuse of process.
The company’s current focus on technology is expected to impact employee engagement and experience. During its investor day in September, the company said it is automating some of its back-of-house processes, like inventory ordering, and implementing workflow tools as part of its effort to make barista work easier.
As part of its reinvention plan, Starbucks is working to create a unified global company by improving in-store employee experience; changing the store operating model; redesigning what a partnership with the company looks like; and enhancing customer connection, according to Britt.
Starbucks invested deeper in that customer connection in September, when the company launched its Starbucks’s Rewards Together Program. The program allows a select group of brands to partner with Starbucks by linking loyalty programs. Delta was the first U.S. partner in the initiative.