Starbucks dominated headlines this morning. It was refreshing to read that it wasn’t because of extraordinary earnings or a clever new Frappucino flavor – it was all about how leaders plan to expand in China by putting employees first.
Employees in Starbucks China corporate stores will soon receive a monthly housing subsidy to cover an average of 50 percent of housing costs. Starbucks China will also adopt a U.S. sabbatical program that gives long-tenured employees the option to take up to 12 months of unpaid leave.
Why we’re excited
1. Starbucks supports employee well-being
Chinese companies traditionally offer dormitory housing for employees – but a subsidy offers more control over living decisions. This announcement emphasizes Starbucks support for what we at Limeade call the whole employee — a person’s life in and outside of work. Starbucks founder and chairman Howard Schultz has been a pioneer in this movement, publicly sharing his belief that to delight customers, you must first invest in employees.
2. Starbucks prioritizes culture
It’s no longer status quo to offer just 401k and health insurance in your benefits package. Employers are getting creative and investing in their employees in culturally relevant ways. We love that while the company is offering housing in China, they’ve tailored their benefits to global markets — offering (amongst many other things) education benefits in the U.S. and housing loan programs in the U.K.
3. Starbucks aligns its culture and business strategy
Americans may think it’s strange to bring your parents to work, but families play a significant role in career choices in China. So Schultz announced his big news at a Starbucks China Partner Family Forum, where executives mingled with employees’ families. The event itself shows that (at least out of the gate), Starbucks understands the cultural differences in its second-largest market. Chinese employees want to work somewhere that makes their parents proud — and Starbucks is doing just that. By understanding the value of family, the company will indirectly boost its bottom line.
We applaud this announcement today and will look to highlight how other organizations put (or don’t put) the whole employee first in 2016.