14 July 2017

Understaffing Is Haunting Starbucks Outlets

Starbucks
Coffee shop Starbucks was reported to be having an understaffing problem, according to nearly nine out of 10 workers surveyed in a recent study.

Coworker.org, an online platform that allows workers to organize around certain issues, surveyed 184 Starbucks employees and 89 percent said that staffing was a problem at their locations over the past three months.

The findings back the testimony of more than a dozen employees who spoke with Business Insider in May about understaffing issues at the coffee chain.

"There is no customer connection when we're as busy and understaffed as we are," a Starbucks worker told Business Insider at the time. "Put another person on the floor, and we can talk. I've had people call the store to complain that we seemed rushed and upset. The stress is overwhelming."

In June 2016, Jaime Prater, a Starbucks employee, created a Coworker.org petition that said a "lack of labor is killing morale" at the chain. Despite employee protest, the company said it did not see the need to make any major changes. A spokesperson said that over the last 8 months, the chain has added labor to about 15 percent of stores and is looking to add more in the months ahead.

"They cut our labor in half last year, and many times there'd only be one barista on the floor at a time," one employee told Business Insider. "It's still the case now."

"Our store managers are empowered, but not incentivized, to make staffing decisions for their stores. And we work to make sure they have the right tools and deployments to help them succeed. We continue to solicit feedback directly from our partners though our own channels about what they are experiencing in our stores, and supporting 1:1 conversations with managers to make sure any concerns are addressed," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.

The new wave of understaffing complaints come at a time when Starbucks is attempting to double down on customer service with the new North Star program. North Star is supposed to help employees better focus on customers, and encourages them to interact with customers and form "connections."