Starbuck’s Approach to Employee Engagement

Everyone who has heard of coffee knows Starbucks, the Seattle based company that has taken the the world of caffeinated beverages to a whole new level. But Starbuck’s ingenuity is not exclusive to their coffee: they maintain a phenomenal employee engagement strategy that keeps their turnover rate at an impressive 20% of the industry average. And due to the $2,004 turnover cost for a hourly team member, they are saving a lot of money. So how do they do it?


In 2012 Starbucks invited their team managers to their $35 million Leadership Lab to collaborate and develop new ideas to promote from within. They took input from around the country and developed strategies from issues only seen in the day to day life of Starbucks. By doing so, they also engaged their employees by showing they care, and that they are willing to change for them. For example, when 30% of employees listed “freedom to wear what they want” as the most wanted job perk, Starbucks developed the dress code “Look Book” for employees to follow guidelines while still being able to dress freely.

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Due to the nature of Starbuck’s product a lot of their potential employees are also customers: this means that a bad interview process could affect the profit margins. Starbucks treats interviews as a two way street; both the interviewer and the interviewee are seeing if this decision will benefit them. On both Glassdoor and Starbuck’s website, there is an emphasis on personality and being true to who you are in the interview. This promotes a positive company culture where individuals are not afraid to be themselves and acts as an excellent firewall, preventing any employees who would not be a good fit for the company, from being hired.


As anyone who has worked in retail knows, more often than not you feel as if you are a number in a computer who receives a paycheck and nothing more. This attitude breeds disdain for managers and a company’ as a whole. Starbucks respects their employees and in return they promote the company in their daily lives, becoming walking advocates for their brand. If you work for Starbucks in any capacity you are called a “Partner” rather than an employee. Furthermore, they understand who their employees are and offer benefits for the applicable demographics. For instance, a large number of Starbucks workers are current students or are paying off loans, so they now offer tuition reimbursement as a company benefit to match their worker’s needs.