October 16, 2014
Starbucks Baristas Can Show Off Their Tattoos While Munching On Free Food, Earning Higher Wages In 2015

Starbucks is already in the holiday spirit of gift-giving. The coffee giant sent a message to staffers noting that baristas will receive higher pay, free food and will be allowed to show off their ink. Customers weren't left out either. A few lucky customers have the chance to win free Starbucks for life.

The Seattle Times reports that the big announcements came at the close of a Starbucks gathering in Seattle where 2,100 midlevel managers met to discuss strategies to deal with the upcoming holiday and beyond. One of the biggest attempts to increase sales starts with happy baristas. Starbucks has long offered benefits unusual in the retail sector, such as health care insurance, even for part-timers and stock. The Times notes that it recently it launched a program to subsidize college education for its baristas.

However, the company has been criticized for low starting pay and hectic work schedules assigned with the help of scheduling software.

Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead said Thursday in an email to staffers that the company will increase starting-pay rates in the US in January. That month, all baristas and shift supervisors will also receive a raise and experienced partners will be eligible for a "lump sum increase" to reward tenure. Pay reviews will be annual.

Another big change coming to Starbucks involves a much more lenient dress code. Alstead is hoping that by allowing more self-expression, baristas will feel more empowered.

"We want to build a company where self-expression, empowerment and inclusion are nurtured."
Some of the changes include the ability for baristas to show tattoos except for those on the face and throat. They can also sport colored ties and neck scarves as well as black denim. Shirts can be worn untucked if the shirt is no longer than the back pockets and "your midsection doesn't show." Piercings — formerly a no-no — are now allowed, as long as it's no more than two earrings per ear and a small nose stud. Not everyone at Starbucks is happy. According to CNN, while most workers praised the eased restrictions around clothes and body art, a vocal contingent decried the new watch and ring restrictions on a company-run Facebook page for employees.

Though watch and ring restrictions are still up in the air, at least the employees won't be going hungry. Store employees will also get one free food item per shift under the new employee benefits policy.

The initiatives announced Thursday is designed to "ensure we are paying a competitive wage that better positions us to attract and keep the best partners," Alstead wrote in his email to staffers.

What do you think? Are the changes to the new Starbucks dress code and pay structure going to be positive for the company?