Photo (above): Coffee-tasting session among Starbucks partners
Like a refreshing brew, the Starbucks Experience builds upon a masterful combination of ingredients in product, service and delivery to keep customers coming back for more.
This renowned coffee company celebrates its distinctiveness through a passion for great coffee and quality customer service. But the real jewel is its employees, or as the company likes to say, its “partners”.
True to its mission of inspiring and nurturing the human spirit, Starbucks has proven its prowess by capturing the “Best of the Best” Employer in Aon Hewitt Best Employers – Malaysia 2015 and the Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management’s coveted Malaysia HR Awards – Gold Award in 2014.
In other words, Starbucks is simply a great place to work. The company does not just offer you a job, it offers you an opportunity to find your inner compass.
The Starbucks commitment to making meaningful connections for “partners” and customers is cascaded from these four principles:
1. Employer branding
Starbucks develops success stories in the form of groundbreaking work done to provide opportunities, compensation and benefits to its partners.
The company makes a difference through the “Starbucks Experience”, which strategically supports the overall Employee Value Proposition of retaining, engaging and motivating partners in exchange for productivity and performance.
The word “partner” means working together, and having a sense of belonging as a team and family. To this end, the company plays its part through providing extrinsic elements like rewards and benefits, opportunities for career development, and intrinsic elements of management style, work environment and culture.
As an employer centred on strengthening its retail and full-time workforce, Starbucks has long adhered to its Talent Attraction Channel, which creates a great mix of individuals within the ranks through a carefully formulated campaign of “Plan-Attract-Select-Hire”.
2. Partner development
An employment at Starbucks is the beginning of something bigger and better. Every partner is briefed on their coffee journey, regardless if they are starting as baristas or management trainees.
The company’s structured career path helps to empower partners to shape their future and manage personal goals.
In addition, internal promotion opportunities reinforce the concept of treating one another as family. Loyalty is apparent; 100% operation leaders are internally promoted, while half of all department heads have risen from positions behind the counter!
Starbucks believes in growing people from within its ranks. Therefore, numerous career enhancement programmes are in place to provide management competencies and build leadership capabilities.
By showing an invested interest in the careers of their partners, Starbucks exerts a Pygmalion effect by asserting that the greater the expectations placed on a person, the better they will do.
The focus on career advancement in Starbucks is closely matched by an excellent reward system, which helps to give partners a sense of pride and motivation to achieve more.
3. Coffee and culture
Every person who works at Starbucks breathes the coffee culture.
Coffee tasting sessions are conducted to help partners gain valuable knowledge to form a connection with the brew and therefore enhancing their coffee expertise.
Partners who are passionate about coffee can pursue their interests by joining the Coffee Master Programme and the Latte Art Programme, two certifiable modules that are available to help individuals continue on their journey to become coffee experts and espresso artists.
Trips to coffee-growing regions such as Thailand and Sumatra are also organised to enable partners to get a glimpse of where their coffee comes from. The visits to coffee plantations are meant to help partners appreciate the hard work that goes into each pound of coffee.
Through structured learning and development, Starbucks creates a wholesome experience for its brand ambassadors too.
4. Humanity and love
Humans are hardwired for empathy and emotion. At Starbucks, there is a strong belief to give back to the community.
The Starbucks Malaysia CUPFund (CUP for Caring Unites Partners) was initiated more than eight years ago. Since then, it has been a major contribution to partners who are experiencing hardships.
This programme is funded solely by partners’ monthly contributions and fundraising initiatives. More importantly, it is a way for Starbucks to take care of its own.
Outside the company, community involvement and environmental collaborations set the foundation for the organisation’s hopes to create positive change whenever possible.
At Starbucks, the emphasis goes beyond knowing the products and services, and how to sell them.
As a socially responsible organisation and an employer of choice, Starbucks continues to spearhead improvements in partnerships as well as making positive changes to the community.
Starbucks facts and figures
A coffee master’s journey
Adi (most left) at Starbucks coffee seminar
My life changed for the better since day one at Starbucks as I have an unwavering passion towards coffee. While I was a barista, I became a certified classroom facilitator and I developed skills to conduct training classes.
I believe that learning is continuous and it is my passion to educate, therefore, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead the coffee department of Starbucks in Malaysia. I lead the Coffee Master Programme and strategise the certification process for our partners.
I work with a cross-functional team to manage and coordinate the programme’s activities for the market. This will include coffee seminars, coffee-related programmes and competitions.
The process of the certification is not an easy journey. Thus it is truly inspiring for me when a partner receive the Black Apron as it signifies the certification of a Starbucks partner as a coffee master.
Being a coffee master at Starbucks means a lot to us as it indicates that we are experts in all things coffee and trained to be the best of the best. Not only we learn the basics about coffee and its rich history, but we know how to craft our own coffee and demonstrate the knowledge to customers in-store.
I have conducted many coffee seminars at Starbucks stores with other coffee masters where we educate and share coffee knowledge with customers.
I feel truly blessed to be able to breathe, sleep and dream coffee!
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Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 18 April 2015
Lay Hsuan is the content curator for Leaderonomics.com. She writes occasionally and is the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader’s Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.