News Feature | August 19, 2014

Starbucks To Update Scheduling Software To Meet Staffing Needs

Source: Hospitality Leader Online
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Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Starbucks Scheduling Upgrade NYT Article

Scheduling Policy Changes Announced In Response To NYT Article

Starbucks has announced that it would change its policies surrounding the schedules of its workers in response to an article that appeared in the New York Times.

In Wednesday's New York Times, reporter Jodi Kantor introduced readers to a 22-year-old single mother and Starbucks barista named Jannette Navarro, whose chaotic schedules caused great disruption throughout her personal life. An immediate firestorm emerged, with other low wage earners sharing their own personal stories of terrible schedules, including the practice of asking workers to close a store late at night only to return a few hours later to reopen. It's known as "clopening."

Starbucks, like many other employers, use automated scheduling software to determine employee shifts. Unfortunately, it creates schedules that are erratic, at best.

The company will quickly update its scheduling software to provide “stability and consistency” for its more than 130,000 “store partners,” according to an internal e-mail Thursday from Cliff Burrows, the head of Starbucks’ U.S. operations.

Burrows said Starbucks is committed to “taking care” of its employees and that he was “troubled” when he read about the 22-year-old employee, Jannette Navarro.

“Our success is a direct result of the relationship our partners — like Janette — have with our customers,” said Burrows. “We have a responsibility to support them in balancing their home and work lives.”

“We must do all we can to deliver the best for our partners because they deserve our very best,” wrote Cliff Burrows, group president in charge of United States stores, in an email to 130,000 employees, according to the Times. The email stated that the company would be revising its scheduling procedures to make them more humane, providing employees at least a week’s notice about their schedules and eliminating the life-destroying practice of “clopening”– making a worker shut the store for the night and return just a few hours later to open for the next day.

Additionally, Starbucks said it would try to move workers who have more than an hour's commute to a more convenient location.

The company was already working on new human resources policies aimed at improving the employee experience, but decided to expedite the process in response to the Times article, said spokesman Zach Hutson.

Hutson acknowledged that the company had received complaints from workers about scheduling in the past. But he added that managers will now have more leeway when it comes to setting hours for individual employees.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been outspoken on a number of social and economic issues, including same-sex marriage and raising the national minimum wage.

Recently, the company announced plans to offer both full- and part-time employees a generous tuition reimbursement benefit that covers two full years of classes through a partnership with Arizona State University’s online studies program.

Starbucks also pledged last year to maintain health benefits for employees despite increased costs under the Affordable Care Act. Many other big employers have reduced health coverage in response to the rollout of so-called Obamacare.