A Starbucks Secret: How to Keep Good Employees

While I was traveling over the weekend, I picked up a copy of a good book in the Las Vegas airport called “Lessons from the Top: The 50 Most Successful Business Leaders in America — and What You Can Learn.”

One of the profiles in the book is on Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz and his system for holding on to good employees in a business with typically high turnover. Ten years ago, Shultz created a program called “Bean Stock.” At the end of each year, every single employee — whether a manager or a part-timer — is awarded stock options worth 14% of his annual base pay. And every employee has the option to take advantage of the company’s comprehensive health plan.

As a result, he says, Starbucks has one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the business. We at ETR believe you need to be very careful with Pay-for-Loyalty plans. (See Message #547, “Superstars: How Important Are They to Your Success?”) These things can cost you more than they’re worth.

As MMF said to me in our recent conversation, “Bottom line: You can’t avoid the hardest work … the intimate and difficult job of dealing with people face to face … encouraging them, chastising them, advising them, informing them, challenging them, apologizing to them, etc. It’s messy, but it’s what matters in the long run.”

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]