Starbucks has an understaffing problem, according to nearly nine out of 10 workers surveyed in a recent study.
Coworker.org, an online platform that allows workers to organise around certain issues, surveyed 184 Starbucks employees and 89% said that staffing was a problem at their locations over the past three months.
The findings back the testimony of more than a dozen employees who spoke with Business Insider in May about understaffing issues at the coffee chain.
“There is no customer connection when we’re as busy and understaffed as we are,” a Starbucks worker told Business Insider at the time. “Put another person on the floor, and we can talk. I’ve had people call the store to complain that we seemed rushed and upset. The stress is overwhelming.”
In June 2016, Jaime Prater, a Starbucks employee, created a Coworker.org petition that said a “lack of labour is killing morale” at the chain. Despite employee protest, the company said it did not see the need to make any major changes. Starbucks didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the most recent Coworker.org survey and hasn’t changed its staffing policy since complaints began last year — a decision many workers disagree with.
“They cut our labour in half last year, and many times there’d only be one barista on the floor at a time,” one employee told Business Insider. “It’s still the case now.”
The new wave of understaffing complaints come at a time when Starbucks is attempting to double down on customer service with the new North Star program. North Star is supposed to help employees better focus on customers, and encourages them to interact with customers and form “connections.”
However, in the Coworker.org survey, 75% of workers said their stores were not appropriately staffed to carry out North Star, compared to 8% who said that their locations were.
While Starbucks has said that North Star is intended to find ways for the corporate side of the business to better support baristas, many workers told Business Insider they saw the program as a way to blame employees for not working hard enough, despite their lack of time and resources.
“It’s Starbucks saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to keep understaffing you and running you ragged, but on top of that, we want you to be better at customer service. Oh, and you won’t get paid more for it either,'” one employee said.
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