Pros and Cons of Working at Starbucks

“The most dangerous drinking game is seeing how long I can go without coffee.” -Coffee Lover Journals

Pros Cons
Employees get free coffee The pay is relatively low
Free education for online studies at ASU Sometimes it’s hard to get sufficient work hours
Starbucks employees meet a lot of new people The complicated menu is difficult to learn
Food & drinks discounts to employees (both on and off shift) Not enough hands on deck can make shifts overwhelming
Employees get a 401K, stocks, savings, and retirement Promotions are hard to come by
Employees working 20 hours per week qualify for benefits It’s a people-facing job, and you have to be pleasant all the time
Pros and Cons of Working at Starbucks

Starbucks needs no real introduction to consumers and prospective employees, not just in the United States but globally. It is an American concept multinational company and the largest chain of coffeehouses in the world. It’s safe to say that Starbucks has become a household name. 

Founded many years ago, way back in March of 1971, Starbucks had its first premises in Seattle, Washington, USA. Since then, it has grown to have multiple coffeehouses in every state and city across the American nation and abroad. In fact, the worldwide chain operates in over 70 countries and more than 30,000 locations. As one can imagine, Starbucks has created millions of jobs for people in countries scattered across the globe. The company was founded by Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, and Zev Siegl and is nowadays overseen by CEO Kevin Johnson.

Many people work at Starbucks and are more than willing to share their experiences with prospective employees. Those who are job seeking and don’t know much about the business but have an interest in gainful employment often wonder if getting a job at Starbucks is worth it. For sure, the worldwide coffee culture is not going anywhere, so a job at Starbucks may be a viable choice. Much like deciding on any possible job, there is a lot to think about before applying for or accepting a job at your local Starbucks.

Below, we look at several pros and cons of working at the company that may help you with the decision-making process. Once you’ve considered them each carefully, you will have a better idea of whether working for Starbucks is the right choice for you.

Pros and Cons of Working at Starbucks

Just like any other job, there are pros and cons to working at Starbucks. Before you decide whether or not to apply for that open position at the local coffeehouse, take the time to consider the following advantages and disadvantages of the job. Before we get started, keep in mind that sometimes, Starbucks refers to employees as “partners.”

Employees get free coffee

Many current and ex-employees of Starbucks mention that free coffee is one of the biggest and most enjoyable perks of the job. Partners working at Starbucks receive one free pound of coffee each week. If they aren’t keen on coffee, they can switch it out for a box of tea. One pound of coffee typically costs the average person $8 to $13, and you can expect to get around 26 regular size cups of coffee out of it. 

In addition to this, while on shift, employees receive one free food item and multiple free drinks per shift. Of course, free food and coffee cannot be consumed at the counter in front of customers. Employees are encouraged to enjoy their free items during their breaks. 

Starbucks employees meet a lot of new people

People who enjoy others’ company or who want to meet many different types of people thoroughly enjoy working at Starbucks. Employees often make lifelong friends with their colleagues, and some have even met their partners or best friends behind the Starbucks counter! People from all walks of life enter Starbucks daily. There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Statista unveils that the largest percentage of people going to Starbucks daily are between the ages of 18 and 29, close to the typical age of Starbucks employees!

Free education for online studies at ASU

Employees who want to further their education have enjoyed taking advantage of the free education offered by Starbucks. Interested employees can study for a bachelor’s degree funded by the company through the online degree programs at Arizona State University.  

There are over 100 bachelor degrees to choose from in the following interest areas: Art & Design, Business, Communication & Digital Media, Computer Science & Technology, Education, Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning,  Health & Wellness, History, Humanities, Information Technology, Language, Law, Liberal Arts, Management, Nursing, Nutrition, Psychology, STEM, Science, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Sustainability. 

Food & drinks discounts to employees (both on and off shift)

While working for the company, employees are provided with the perk of discounts on both food and drinks. While on shift, employees can have a free food item and multiple drinks, but if the employee wants to purchase more food and drinks, a 50% discount is applied. If employees want to buy Starbucks food, drinks, and merchandise while not on shift, they are given a 30% discount. 

Employees get a 401K, stocks, savings, and retirement

When working for Starbucks, employees are provided a competitive 401K that the company matches. Employees can also buy discounted company stocks and get involved in Bean Stock, the company’s equity reward program. 

Employees working 20 hours per week qualify for benefits

Employees gain access to benefits and perks if they work a minimum of 20 hours per week. This is half the amount of hours that the average office or desk-job employee has to work. The management and supervisors do what they can to ensure that employees are given sufficient hours to maintain their perks and benefits. The benefits don’t kick in immediately. Employees must have worked at least 240 hours within three months for them to activate. The perks are well worth the wait, though. 

Discounts on phone bills, insurance, Sketchers, and more

Starbucks partners with various affiliate companies, including local and national retailers that provide company employees with great discounts on many things. Using the affiliate partners website, Starbucks employees can get discounts on great brands such as Sketchers and discounts on insurance (home, pet, and auto), cell phone bills, and more.

Free premium Spotify subscription

Spotify is the go-to app for listening to your favorite playlists. The app also hosts the Starbucks in-store playlist! Employees of the company are provided with free, unlimited access to Spotify Premium for their employment duration. 

All Partners have access to the Caring Unites Partners Fund

One of the perks that many Starbucks employees have enjoyed is the CUP Fund (Caring Unites Partners Fund). This fund aims to help employees who face financial difficulties due to a death in the family, natural disaster, accident, or illness. The CUP Fund is based on the concept of partners helping partners. Employees can use the fund once every three years, and there is a $1,000 cap on the fund – funds are paid out within five days. The CUP Fund is a grant-based system, so the fund does not need to be paid back. However, employees need to have legitimate reasons for claiming from the fund.

Cons of Working at Starbucks

The pay is relatively low

Ex and current employees of Starbucks will tell you that the hourly rate of pay is not particularly high. By reading reviews, you may find that some people feel it is a temporary job unless they are making phenomenal tips to boost their hourly wage. According to Payscale, the pay at Starbucks fluctuates and is based on your role within the business. Take the following as an example:

  • Baristas: $9 to $14
  • Shift supervisors: $11 to $16
  • Cashier: $9 to $15

Of course, there is room for resentment between floor staff in the coffee house and senior management and office staff working at Starbucks. For instance, according to Comparably, senior marketing managers at the company earn a base salary of $145,000 and a $10,750 bonus. This salary is way above average for a regular senior marketing manager. There seems to be a huge difference between what customer-facing employees are making and the more senior employees of the business. Perhaps it is warranted, but there’s a certain level of discontent as a result.

Sometimes it’s hard to get sufficient work hours

Not getting enough hours seems to be a common problem among Starbucks employees. If the store you end up working at has many baristas and cashiers, it may be hard to get sufficient hours to boost your income. In fact, Starbucks has a policy of not paying overtime. They do this by ensuring sufficient employees to cover shifts, so it is rare (and near-impossible) for an employee to work over 40 hours per week. 

If you are a regular at the coffeehouse, you will have experienced the staff members shouting out a string of ingredients for each order. Some seem straightforward, and others seem complex. That’s the nature of the coffee culture – everyone wants what they like, and the Starbucks menu has something for everyone. As you can imagine, it is quite an extensive menu. The Starbucks menu can seem extremely complicated and overwhelming because there is so much to learn. Some employees mention on social platforms that it takes around 12 weeks (3 months) to learn all the recipes and get comfortable with the menu. It can take around six months to get settled, and trust that you know what you are doing. 

Not enough hands on deck can make shifts overwhelming

While Starbucks employees don’t work overtime, the coffeehouses are often understaffed, which means that a handful of employees have to handle rush hour while still being pleasant, quick to serve, and super-helpful. Being understaffed is not pre-planned; it’s just difficult to know when a sudden rush-period will crop up, and then all hands have to be on deck. Often there are not enough hands. At the end of a long day or week, you can feel thoroughly spent and overworked. 

Promotions are hard to come by

Many people enter a job at Starbucks hoping to progress through the ranks, only to find that there is very little room for advancement. Of course, there is room for advancement at some levels, but you probably won’t enter the coffee house as a cashier and steadily make your way to a management position in a short space of time. It’s just unlikely. 

It’s a people-facing job, and you have to be pleasant all the time

Working at Starbucks means that you have to deal with customers on a face-to-face basis all the time. There’s no room for a down day or a bad mood. You have to uphold the company image by being pleasant, friendly, and helpful at all times. You even have to remain pleasant when dealing with customers who find it hilarious to provide fake and “funny” names for their order. It can be emotionally exhausting to disguise how you truly feel all day.

When the store doors close, the work continues

What many current and ex-employees of Starbucks will tell you is that there is a lot more to the job than meets the eye. When the coffeehouse closes its doors (if it’s not a 24-hour branch), the work continues. All employees on the last shift will have a lot of cleaning to do. If you are working a late shift, say getting off shift at 11 p.m., this can cut into your leisure hours as you will be there for at least another 30 minutes to an hour to do your share of cleaning and tidying. 

Starbucks employees are expected to be “machines”

According to an expose done by Business Insider and some of the ex-baristas of Starbucks, the general idea is for employees to be more like machines and less like humans who want to connect. One barista said that it was viewed as a negative thing if he took a few moments to have a conversation with a regular. Some employees go as far as to say that the company is a cult that pays a poor hourly wage. Something to think about.

Arguments Summary

It stands to reason that the truth about working for Starbucks lies somewhere in the middle of the pros and cons. While some employees feel that the company has a lot of room for improvement, others have spoken highly and positively about their experience. A lot of the issues may come down to individual outlets. One Starbucks coffeehouse may have a completely different atmosphere and a group of employees that make the working experience a big pro. Another may be the complete opposite, making employment at Starbucks a big con.

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