There might be trouble brewing in coffee-lovers' paradise.
Business Insiderinterviewed a dozen current and former baristas about their experience working for your favorite frapp emporium.
"Most people see Starbucks as a well-run operation," said one recent employee. "But being on the inside, I've found many flaws and wonder how this place makes money."
As Yahoo Finance points out, Starbucks has increased same-store sales consistently in the past years, but traffic in the second quarter of 2017 went flat after dropping 2-percent in the first quarter of 2017. Although fewer people are visiting the stores, new CEO Kevin Johnson plans to open 5,000 new stores worldwide by 2021.
However, baristas say the company can't expand at this rate, if they don't address a few key issues.
1. Fix staffing issues. As you may remember, last June a Starbucks employee created a petition to ask for more workers during shifts, stating that "lack of labor is killing morale."
According to baristas, the issue continues today.
"Most stores are understaffed and I believe that's the way corporate wants it," a barista said. "Store managers would rather be shorthanded rather than pay a penny of overtime."
"You're running around and sometimes it gets a little ragged" with baristas feeling "like they're drowning sometimes," another employee said.
Baristas say that one of the major issues is the amount of jobs one person is expected to perform - especially with all the new innovations Starbucks is pushing out lately. Unicorn frapps, anyone? And that's not to mention things like working drive-thrus, and preparing meals.
Some baristas claim this is taking away from the customer-employee experience, too.
"When I started in 2010, we had partners who had been there for eight-plus years," said one worker. "The customers were like family. We had seen their children grow. Now it's frowned upon if I stop to have a conversation with a regular I haven't seen in a while."
2. Improving worker pay. Workers did not have great things to say about what they're earning to work so hard.
"I don't know how many times I've heard that we're the most important part of the company," said one barista. "I almost wish they would read that same letter they read to us, to the board, so they could know why they need to change the pay scale. If we're the most important part of the company, and our connection is that important, [they shouldn't be] paying as little as they can get away with paying."
Another former employee got more blunt, saying "it's a cult that pays $9 per hour."
3. Strengthening the relationship between baristas and corporate workers. While baristas enjoy things like interacting with customers, they feel Starbucks' corporate would rather them be replaced by, as one worker puts it, "machines."
"Most stores are understaffed," said one employee. "And I believe that's the way corporate wants it. Store managers would rather be shorthanded rather than pay a penny of overtime."
Another current barista also shared that corporate doesn't want employees in the stores to interact with customers as much.
"[T]o be perfectly honest, to know that so many people have been touched by conversations with me," the employee said. "And it has sapped just about every last ounce of my energy to know that I am now a hindrance to the Starbucks (corporate America) agenda."
For their part, Starbucks released a statement to Business Insider.
"Over the years, one of the strengths of our business has continued to be the connection we have with our partners," a Starbucks representative said. "We know we are not perfect, but we are regularly engaged in discussions with the over 160,000 partners who wear the green apron in the US and continuously work to make their experience even better and more valuable. We know when we exceed the expectations of our people, they, in turn, exceed the expectations of our customers. To us, every voice matters."
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