Coffee giant Starbucks is changing its hiring, recruiting, and training methods to encourage employees to become more involved in their careers and their communities. Applicants who want to volunteer and work on their personal development which shares a commitment to community work will more likely be offered new careers as "partners." Prospects will also be judged on their conversational skills as well as their coffee skills.
Starbucks will work on improvements to their management training, personal development, and learning new skills. They are hoping that by increasing their investment in these skills the turnover rate will decrease and customer service will improve.
Volunteers in the community are the backbone of not-for-profit organizations. Ranging from ambulance drivers, firemen, community support groups, animal welfare to national groups such as Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer, Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity, people contribute of themselves to give back to the community.
Starbucks recognizes the important link in employee development and their roles in volunteer projects. It's an essential method of learning new skills as they share their commitment to their own communities. Customer service is not just knowing the words; it is more like the positive relationships we can develop individually as we expand our personal and professional passions.
In the customer service business, loyal clients and customers are built through the development of positive customer relationships. We seek referrals, and build goodwill by becoming known in our communities because we really care. Many leadership roles are volunteer programs which take our time, energy, talent, and skills. Our purpose for accepting volunteer roles in the first place usually coincides with our personal or professional passions.
When Howard Schultz returned to the CEO seat of Starbucks in 2008, he knew the company needed more than just money to bring a failing business back to life. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Schultz stated:
I decided against the advice of many people at the time, because it had a high cost attached to it - to take 10,000 store managers to New Orleans. I knew that if I could remind people of our character and values, we could make a difference.
With that commitment and encouraging employees to give of themselves, that effort became the single largest block of community support in the history of New Orleans. With a total contribution of 54,000 volunteer hours and $1 million, volunteers painted, landscaped, and built playgrounds to a community devastated by disaster.
If we hadn't had New Orleans, we wouldn't have turned things around. It was real, it was truthful, and it was about leadership.