A quarter of Starbucks baristas quit their job within 3 months — and complicated iced coffee drinks might be to blame
- A quarter of baristas quit in the first three months on the job, up from 10% before the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- CEO Howard Schultz said the complexity of making iced beverages may be part of the problem.
As Starbucks continues to face an internal reckoning, turnover among baristas is on the rise — and America's insatiable thirst for iced beverages may be partially to blame, execs say.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 25% of baristas quit within the three months on the job, up from 10% before the pandemic, based on company data. The uptick comes amid a wave of unionization efforts at Starbucks locations across the country, as employees push for increased benefits and better working conditions.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the Wall Street Journal that he partially attributes turnover to the popularity of cold and iced beverages, which tend to be harder to make, involving multiple steps and frequent trips to refill the ice bucket.
"It's the complexity of those cold beverages," Schultz told WSJ. "We will fix that. We will design new stores from scratch."
Now the company is working to improve employee retention. After increasing wages last month, Starbucks is reconsidering the structure of the barista role by taking a close look at everything from the cafe layout to the menu.
In an effort to improve operations, the company is currently testing new store designs and faster methods for making cold beverages within a 20,000-square-foot lab at its Seattle headquarters, WSJ reported.
Employees speaking to the Journal said a revamp is long overdue, particularly as demand has continued to climb, noting that locations that once served an average of 1,200 customers daily now have closer to 1,500.
Starbucks also has struggled with how to manage store safety, including wavering on protocols like its open bathroom policy. The company announced during the summer that it will close a total of 18 stores, citing "challenging incidents," including customers using drugs in stores.
"After careful consideration, we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate, to open new locations with safer conditions," a Starbucks spokesperson previously told Insider.
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