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Starbucks Staff Motivation Strategies

Info: 3401 words (14 pages) Essay
Published: 5th Jun 2017 in Management

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Starbucks is one of the world’s most recognized Coffee Companies, which was founded in 1971 in Seattle, USA. The company has more than 200,000 employees, with16, 000 stores in over 50 Countries. It is not only one of the most popular Coffee houses for consumers, but also for employees. The company boasts low turnover and high employee satisfaction ( workforce.com ).

The Position of a Barista

Working as a Barista within Starbucks USA is an extremely important position on behalf of the company as they are seen to be “The Face of Starbucks” ( star bucks.com).

The job entails a number of responsibilities including the following :

– Works within a busy environment, whilst remaining calm throughout the process

– Working to keep an eye on customer cues and needs

– Training new employees

– Gives a high level of customer service

– Taking orders and making sales transactions thought the use of a till

– Provides beverages and food at the Starbucks standard to customers, with use of relevant ingredients as outlined by the company

– Maintenance of the shop floor / kitchen environment

– Recommendation of products to customers

(star bucks.com)

The Role of Work Motivation in Starbucks

Starbucks has a well known job motivation strategy which has enabled the organization to be highlighted positively following on from this.

Maslow’s Hierarchy

Abraham Maslow constructed a hierarchy of needs (Fig 1.) which consists of five levels, although there are more needs beyond these, Maslow believed the model outlined the basic needs of an individual working within an organization.

( http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/maslow.htm).

The lowest level of the pyramid is Physiological needs, such as food, water and pay and job security. These needs are basic, and are therefore expected by all employees, Starbucks fulfils this stage successfully, by offering employees with breaks in order to fulfill hunger needs, as well as a steady pay rate which is paid either as a salary for full- time employees, or hourly rates for part-time. Another benefit which Starbucks offers to employees is a discount on the commodities which the company offers.

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The next Level in Maslow’s Hierarchy is Safety Needs, which includes employees working within a secure environment in regards to health and safety. Starbucks offers it’s employees a clean and safe environment to work in, this is shown through the organization meeting general health and safety standards. Starbucks goes further than this by offering a number of health related benefits for employees. These include medical insurance, dental and vision care, mental health dependency, short and long term disability and life insurance. (workforce.com).

The third level outlines the Social Needs, such as affection from employers, as well as a friendly rapport, respect from colleagues as well as managers. Starbucks employees are shown respect through their job title as “partners” rather than being labeled as workers by managerial staff. Another factor which highlights the respect shown for employees is the integration of teamwork which is encouraged by the organization. Teamwork enables employees to get to know one another, in order to improve their relationships with each other, and work to the best of their abilities.

The next level shows the Esteem Needs, such as job status and promotion. Starbucks follows this by enabling a promotion to Barista’s who show outstanding performance within the company. Starbucks strives to support individual workers to move up from Barista to Store manager positions, and from there onto a District Manager role. Although the position of a Barista is simple, Starbucks shows that they do not limit employees when it comes to capabilities and promotion. (Starbucks.com)

The top of the Pyramid outlines Self- Actualization within a job role. This shows that skills have been mastered by the individual, and they may have a sense of achievement within their job title. Starbucks employees are put through a training system which puts them onto the right choice of career and enables them to fulfill a sense of achievement. One company survey outlined the one of the top reasons for wanting to work for Starbucks was “to work in a place where I feel I have value.” (workforce.com)

Equity Theory

The Equity theory was developed by Adam in 1963, the theory is based on the concept that each employee will receive a balance between the input of their work and the output they expect to receive from their employer.

In the case of Starbucks employees expect their hard work to be traded in for equal treatment from higher levels of staff as well as colleagues.

In addition, there is well-organized communication between managers and employees in Starbucks. For instance, managers arrange the interviews and schedule of time-off and working hours to fulfill the requirements of employees. Moreover for employees, they are encouraged to give suggestions and develop plans to achieve their goals. http://www.freeonlineresearchpapers.com/starbucks-case-study

In this way employees suggestions can result in a positive outcome if their suggestions are taken into consideration.

Herzberg’s Theory

According to Herzberg’s Theory, there are Motivators and Hygiene factors. Motivators include Achievement, recognition and responsibility. When they are met, workers will be very satisfied and when they are not met, workers will not be satisfied.

In Starbucks, there are series of training modules. They mentor and coach employees to improve their job skills and drive them on the right path of career. In addition, organizational culture of Starbucks emphasizes the value of people. Every employee receives respect and care from their leaders. For example, their suggestions and requirements are recognized and respected by managers. Each employee plays an important part in operating in the company and they have the right of improving company policies and joining in working out a direction of Starbucks. http://www.freeonlineresearchpapers.com/starbucks-case-study

Hygiene needs include company policy, relationship with boss, work conditions, and relationship with peers. If these are met, workers will not be dissatisfied., if they are not met, workers will be very dissatisfied. In Starbucks, the company aims to improve good relationship between manager and employees. For example, the leaders of a retail shop treat the basic level workers as ‘partners’ instead of ‘subordinate’. Moreover teamwork is encouraged in the company and it is used for eradicating different statuses distance. The employee count for each team is usually between three to six which helps to get acquainted with one another easily. By the teamwork, it not only short the distance of every colleagues but also achieve good performance easily and quickly. http://www.freeonlineresearchpapers.com/starbucks-case-study

Preferred Changes

Although Starbucks has been known for its motivational impact amongst employees, the organisation is still lacks particular factors which may be beneficial to the employees. There are a number of changes which can be made in Starbucks which could make the position of the Barista more appealing to employees. The following factors outline aspects which need to be worked on by Starbucks.

One of the biggest downfalls which Starbucks currently holds is the amount it pays to the employees working in the Barista position. The pay for this particular position is around $8 plus tips, however this is not a great deal above America’s national minimum wage rate of $7.25. ( FIND WEBSITE)

This is not a sufficient amount for employees to make a living and individually support themselves. (Bryant Simon).

Another disadvantage which has occurred through the management of Starbucks, is the unreliability in relation to workers shifts and pay checks. Many employees found their working hours were changed on weekly basis, making it difficult for them to predict when they were able to take time off. This resulted in the loss of hours for many Baristas, which also had a knock on effect on their work aids, such as health benefits. (socialistworker.org)

Baristas are also under a high work pressure, stores are understaffed, employers carry out high expectation of each individuals behaviour, appearance and workload. For example they are encouraged to treat the customers as “celebrities”. Employees are also restricted in their individual appearances, and must stick to a strict work uniform code.

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There are a few health and safety hazards which have also affected Baristas, for example backache and foot pains from standing for long hours, a noisy environment which can have a long term impact on hearing and also machines which tend to spray hot milk.

Justification and Consequences of Preferred Changes

An increase in pay towards the Barista position at Starbucks could result in a negative impact on the finances of the organisation, as there are a large number of stores, with many employees whom will expect a rise in their pay. However there will be a positive change amongst the employees, as this will increase their motivation towards the job, as well as job satisfaction. In the long run this will benefit Starbucks as it could result in lower staff turnover. Starbucks is a large organisation therefore this will not be a difficult step for them to implement.

A change which could also be implemented to increase workers efficiency is for managers to construct a set timetable, which allocates each Barista in the branch to specific shift times and days. This will result in employees awareness of their availability. Employees will be happier knowing when they are working, and the organisation will benefit from less absences.

Some employees in the past also found they were not being paid as regularly as they should be. A solution to this would be to have a regular payment system for all employees to be paid at the same time. If for any reason a problem was to arise in the system, then management should deal with the individual employee’s circumstances straight away to avoid employee dissatisfaction. This will result in the employee to be more understanding of the situation of problems are to arise, and management will receive less pressure and complaints from other staff.

One solution to the problem of high job pressure is to implement job rotation. This will enable employees to have a more relaxed approach when they are working with customers. It is also important that Starbucks employs more staff if workers are overworking, it is especially important to establish staff on the shop floor during peak times. This will result in workers being more efficient in both their task and time, enabling the organisation to carry out customer service to the highest of levels.

In order to enable employees to express their individualism it may be possible to give employees a particular day, such as the weekend, where they are able to dress down, away from the standard Starbucks uniform. This will also make consumers aware that Starbucks carries forward a more relaxed approach on employees during the course of the weekend.

Health and Safety measures are a big must for any business, therefore Starbucks need to prioritise with these factors, and find solutions. Regular breaks should be implemented to refresh employees who are standing throughout the day. Small changed such as providing employees with earplugs and long gloves could also help to prevent long term damage of any sort. This can affect the organisation in many ways, as if an employee is to suffer from any injury small or long-term they may not only leave their job, but many will want to take action against them for not implementing high level health and safety measures.

Implementation Plan

Although there are a number of factors which will overcome the points outlined above, Starbucks need to put into practice an implantation plan which can be used in the future to motivate employees. This plan should include the idea to overcome the biggest potential problems employees are currently facing.

A strong implementation plan will include the following factors:

– Increase in pay for Baristas

– Set shift work for Baristas

– An increase in part-time employees during peak times

– Grievance Procedure

Pay is one of the biggest factors which is affecting workers in the Barista position. Therefore an increase in pay will attract a higher number of employees to work more efficiently, and they will be more motivated to work the hours which they are set. However a potential resistor of this change is that employees in other positions may also expect a pay rise following on from this. A way to overcome this problem is to offer employees in higher positions a different set of benefits, such as a bonus or vouchers.

Shift work is an important implementation as workers will be given a set time and day in which they are expected to work. This will provide them with clarity of their responsibilities, and also enable them to use their spare time efficiently. A resistor if this problem is that new employees may not be able to work the same hours as those whose position they are taking over, this may affect the overall quality of the project. A way of overcoming this is for management to spend a bit of time with new employees outlining the hours, and specific duties of which they are expected to complete.

An increase in workers during peak times will reduce the burden on the organisation, especially Baristas, as more help will be at hand during busy times. A potential problem to this part of the plan is that it will cost Starbuck’s more in time, money and other resources as they will need to train new employees. However, it will create a more efficient outcome with consumers, enabling staff to serve each individual at a faster pace, and improve the quality of the service they have to offer. This could potentially lead to higher profits in the long term, as individuals are likely to return during peak times, instead of looking at how busy the store is and moving on.

The final step of the implantation plan is to put into practice a grievance procedure, which will enable employees to refer to management directly if they are having any personal, or corporate issues. This will enable employees to receive support and understanding from their boss and improve the relationship between them.



Starbucks started focusing on China in late 1990’s and in 2005 after expanding in major cities ,it also started to enter the second-tier markets.

Cultural Differences-

China is considered to be one of the world’s biggest tea market, with around 200 million tea drinkers. One of the biggest difference is people in China prefer tea over coffee whereas US has mostly coffee drinkers so Starbucks is trying to expand the tea market in China and have adopted a strategy to the upwardly mobile, young and interested in consumer products especially the foreign products that have been not been available earlier. (http://www.oppapers.com/essays/starbuck-strategy-in-china/336773 )

One of the main cultural difference in China would be that the employees in China believe in the concept of collectivist where greater value is placed on group cooperation & individual modesty. In America, the employees believe in individualism that is self-reliance. Self-promotion is widely accepted & greater value is placed on freedom from externally forced upon constraints.

The second difference would also be in their approach to social relationships. In China, employees are comfortable in a formal hierarchal environment where they understand their position & rules to behave in certain situations. In America, the environment is informal. They believe in equal social positions where a social ranking is given less importance.

Another important difference is time consciousness which is the efficient utilisation of time. In China, employees focus more on the past experiences & pay attention to long term future goals. In America, the employees are future oriented.

Another point of difference can be harmony .In US, people are willing to confront directly, discuss controversial issues and deliver criticism against each other. They prefer to discuss issues and solve them by face to face communication. Whereas, in China employees avoid confrontation, controversial issues and do not prefer to face each other directly.

Another difference can be related to task and relationship orientation. In US, people are task oriented. They are assigned a specific task which they have to complete within the definite time period. This criteria can help in classifying them as efficient or inefficient. Where as in China people are more inclined towards maintaining relationships. People consider building harmonious relationship with each other is more important compared to the task accomplishment.

Howard Schultz, CEO of star bucks, has declared China to be their “number one priority” in terms of growth. Schultz and Starbucks aren’t shy about their Chinese ambitions. Currently they have about 11,000 stores in 37 countries, including about 375 in China. By 2008 Starbucks expects to derive 20% of their revenue from Chinese locations. Starbucks has a long-term goal of 30,000 stores and some 8,000 in China. (ref : http://searchwarp.com/swa45663.htm )


Promotion and job-relatedness

The physical and environmental factors like promotion, job-relatedness and cultural factors have been the key motivating factors that majority of employees have been concerned with as its has been associated with their earnings and living standards. By getting a better job position, employees are seeking better physical environment thereby perceiving a better motivational learning since its directly beneficial to their job performance. One of the huge factors behind job satisfaction is complimenting the employees on daily basis and by passing them a positive feedback. Even if its not genuine, does not really matter as it plays an important role in motivational learning. (ref: Authors: K. B. Chuah, Kris M.Y. Law, year 2003)

Achievement motivation

Once the job goals and securities are fulfilled, the employees set their achievement goals to a higher level. They identify their job promotions and career enhancements as perceived achievement values. Such achievement is accompanied with feeling of self- verification and self-enhancement, according to social cognitive theory.(ref: Authors: K. B. Chuah, Kris M.Y. Law, year 2003)

Personal motivation

Self-willingness and feeling of satisfaction plays an important role in motivating the employees as it not only concerns the employees about their basic needs, but also self-satisfying themselves and their spiritual needs. More employees acknowledge self-willingness as a part of motivational factor as it is a personal motive than as a feeling of satisfaction that could be achieved. (ref: Authors: K. B. Chuah, Kris M.Y. Law, year 2003)

Environmental elements

Apart from the involuntary and the elementary factors that influence the employees mind, the external factors also leverages as environmental element. However, they are not as important as the personal factors but they still affect the motivational learning of the employee. The motivation can be thereby achieved by changing people’s mind through external reinforcements, e.g., by giving rewards and recognitions. (ref: Authors: K. B. Chuah, Kris M.Y. Law, year 2003)


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