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What Every Company Can Learn From Starbucks’ Latest Employer Brand Boost

Posted on: August 14th, 2014 | Category: Employee Relations, Human Resources, Our Blog, Talent Management

Employee engagement and education programs - myHR PartnerCoffee trendsetter Starbucks knows a thing or two about product brand recognition. This past June, the company proved that it also knows something about employer branding as well.

Starbucks’ new tuition reimbursement program was in the media spotlight for weeks this summer. Called the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, the program is expected to assist thousands of Starbucks U.S. employees obtain undergraduate degrees through an arrangement with Arizona State University’s on-line program that offers full tuition reimbursement for employees who have already completed two years of college. For those employees just now starting college, partial tuition scholarships are available.

Employee Engagement

In a recent blog post on the Starbucks program, summed up the company’s smart employer branding move well:

Starbucks has a good understanding of its workforce – and what its employees value. The company notes more than 70 per cent of its U.S. employees are students or aspiring students.


It adds nearly half of college students in the U.S. today fail to complete their degrees due to mounting debt, a tenuous work-life balance, and a lack of support.


Given the rising costs of education and Starbucks’ need to attract and retain capable young talent, the tuition reimbursement program reflects a savvy talent strategy. It positions Starbucks as both a desirable place to work and a good corporate citizen. It also helps the company to lock in talent for several years, while an employee works toward his or her degree.


The program doesn’t require employees to commit to staying with Starbucks once they’ve earned their degree. But that likely doesn’t matter. They probably would have moved on any way to pursue their chosen career.

While the program isn’t for everyone, it does make a bold statement that Starbucks supports employees who want to continue their education. Providing financial assistance to meet this end shows the company understands the issues facing its workforce. Financial wellness is a growing concern, and the high costs of college degrees are a huge factor for many employees. In fact, the 2014 FSFE Financial Wellness Survey, which included feedback from 500 employees across the United States, found that a full 71% of employees want their employer to include financial wellness as part of the company’s wellness program. Starbucks has also developed an employee retention model to support the needs of working students that includes a dedicated enrollment coach, a financial aid counselor and an academic.

Even if your business does not plan to offer an employee tuition reimbursement plan, there is an important lesson to be learned here. “From an employer branding standpoint, Starbucks has really hit the nail on the head,” says Tina Hamilton, PHR, president of myHR Partner. “They know who their workforce is, what types of employees they attract, and they made a point to offer a program that speaks to that population in a positive, impactful way.”

Whether you need help with employee engagement programs or employee retention solutions, we’ve got you covered.

Today’s employers have to be proactive to avoid employee dissatisfaction and high turnover rates. It takes a strategic, broad approach to maintain a positive, productive and profitable workforce. Our team of HR experts is here to help you achieve your workforce goals. Email us, or call us at 610-443-0119 to discuss how myHR Partner training and myHR DirectLink Services can help your business

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