Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan has announced that he plans to work a half-day shift once a month in one of the company’s cafes. This comes following his decision to spend 40 hours undergoing barista training and working alongside employees. While this aims to keep the CEO closer to the company’s culture and customers, the move follows concerning times for worker relationships with the coffee giant.
Over 190 Starbucks-owned locations have recently voted to unionize with workers citing concerns including unsafe working conditions, understaffing and unreliable scheduling. Despite this, Narasimhan remains committed to the company’s success and customer experience.
Working to Maintain a Strong Company Culture
Narasimhan’s commitment to joining his employees in the trenches once a month provides a unique opportunity for him to understand the company culture and working conditions better. The wave of unionization shows that there are deep-seated issues within the company that needs to be resolved; unsafe working environments, understaffing and unreliable scheduling that shows the company is not as committed to its employees as it is to its customers. This level of disconnect is not something that can be addressed through a memo, text, or email. Narasimhan’s commitment and willingness to work with his employees could pave the way for a more engaged and motivated workforce for the company.
Employee Relations a Concern for Starbucks
Earlier this month, Starbucks employees in Buffalo, NY, and Albuquerque, N.M voted to form the first Starbucks Workers United union. The workers cited concerns regarding health and safety, wages, and job security. According to reports, several of the allegations brought to light during the unionizing campaign include that multiple employees were sent home from their shifts due to a COVID outbreak in the store, with no financial support, and that workers are not promised consistent hours, with some fluctuating from week to week. Narasimhan’s commitment will help in understanding the company dynamics and working conditions better and could lead to better employee relations within the company.
Commitment to Customer Satisfaction
Despite the recent employee relations concerns, Narasimhan’s commitment to regular shifts is also an indication of his desire to maintain Starbucks’ quality customer service standards. This commitment also displays an investment in the future of the company, as the CEO is devoting time towards ensuring each of his customer’s needs is met. Additionally, an engaged and happy workforce will be more beneficial to maintaining those high-quality standards than a disenchanted workforce with a high turnover rate.