It’s a new year—a new decade!—at Starbucks, and in order to get with the times, the coffee chain is not only rolling out a new series of drinks made with non-dairy milk but also mental health benefits for its workers, or “partners” in Starbucks corporatespeak.
In a press release on Monday, Starbucks proudly touted its mental health initiatives, which include online forums, partnerships with organizations to promote World Kindness Day and Veterans Day, and training sessions “tackling topics like loneliness, vulnerability, courage, and the power of small acts and conversation to strengthen human connection.” And now, as one of its employee benefits, it is offering free subscriptions to the meditation app Headspace.
Some partners are happy about this and told Twitter that they have already logged into Headspace. Others, however, think that Starbucks could be offering more practical help than a meditation app. Business Insider interviewed a few of them who explained that a lot of their mental stress comes from Starbucks itself, which has cut back on staffing hours, leaving them to work longer shifts with fewer people and with no increase in pay. More than 23,000 people have signed a petition called “Starbucks, Lack of Labor is Killing Morale.”
“Starbucks is a high stress job and from personal experience, it does affect your mental well being,” one said. Another added, “Many Starbucks workers are housing and food insecure and there have been recent petitions to get Starbucks to raise wages nationwide that have been ignored by the company. We didn’t ask for a meditation app, we want to be able to pay our rent.” A third said they suspected that the Headspace announcement was just a PR move to make Starbucks look good.
A Starbucks spokesman told Business Insider that managers and partners would be working together to create more manageable work schedules for everyone and that the company has responded to partners who raised concerns through official Starbucks channels.