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4 ways Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz puts employees 1st

Howard Schultz, president and CEO of Starbucks, speaks at a press conference 

Howard Schultz believes in ensuring his company's success not only in front of the counter with consumers, but also behind it, with his employees.

Schultz is the chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks. He first joined the company in 1982 as the director of operations and marketing. At the time, Starbucks had been around a little over a decade, and was a young company with only four stores. A little more than three decades later, the company has established itself as what Schultz calls "the ultimate purveyor of coffee" with close to 21,000 stores in more than 65 countries.

Schultz's big idea has been to make the people who work for him a priority.

In an interview with Marketplace Morning Report Host David Brancaccio, Schultz shared his belief that a company's responsibility extends beyond ensuring that profits for its shareholders. He says the people who work for companies like Starbucks deserve to be taken care of.

He shared with us four ways he has made his employees a priority in ways that have bolstered Starbucks' success

Idea: Doing the right thing for your people and the communities you serve will ensure greater success for the company.

"I feel strongly that we have demonstrated that we are a performance driven company and organization by providing significant shareholder value," he says.

Schultz realizes that company profits aren't the only way to measure success:

"At the same time, we have done all this through the lens of humanity and that's what I'm most proud of and that's what I believe businesses should be."

Idea: Investing in the education of your employees benefits everyone — the employee and the company.

Schultz and Starbucks recently made headlines by announcing they were partnering with Arizona State University to offer to their employees a four-year college degree at a reduced cost.

"Our responsibility as a company is to recognize that if we could provide a free college education to our employees," he says, "it would help our company and it would help them professionally and personally."

Idea : The status quo is not good enough for a company trying to build a long term, enduring business.

Schultz places a premium on innovation, calling it the key to long-term growth and sustainability.

"The status quo just is not going to be good enough," he says. "We have to push for self-renewal and reinvention and at the heart of that, at the core of that, is innovation.

So, how do you encourage innovation? The answer leads us to Schultz's last big idea....

Idea: Stay curious. Have the courage and conviction to make big bets.

And Schultz should know... He signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey that has the media mogul producing a special line of tea for Starbucks. It's the kind of big bet that most brands could only dream about. One thing is for sure, no matter how much success Starbucks achieves, it hasn't stopped Schultz from planning the company's next move.

"I'm still looking around corners and I'm still trying to put Starbucks in a position to surprise and delight our customers and I think innovation has been the core reason behind our success."

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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