Starbucks workers lead largest strike in company history, employers cut benefits but seek to keep parents happy

Plus, the cross-section between remote work and climate change.

Greetings comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few news stories from the last week and see what we can learn from them.

1 . Starbucks workers go on strike ahead of Red Cup Day

Starbucks employees across America went on strike Thursday, the largest such labor action in the half a century of operation. Ahead of the strike, employees called upon the company to institute better pay, benefits, and staffing at the chain’s many locations.

Ahead of the strike, ABC News reported::

The strike will coincide with “Red Cup Day,” an annual promotion that brings many customers to the company’s stores for a free holiday-themed reusable cup.

Moe Mills, a Starbucks employee who works at a store in St. Louis, told ABC News that they plan to participate in the strike because the company has refused to bargain with the union over staffing decisions tied to the sales uptick associated with promotional events like “Red Cup Day.”

“It’s degrading and embarrassing to work in stores that are so short staffed on promotional days that we give customers poor service,” Mills said. “When customers spend $10 or $12 on a drink, they shouldn’t have to wait 45 minutes or get a lukewarm drink when it should be hot.”

As we alluded to a few weeks ago during the UAW strike, people want to hear from their leadership. Employees want to know that their leaders understand their situation and are invested in remedying it. This affects communicators because employee advocates can quickly become employee activists and tarnish corporate reputation when their concerns are not acknowledged, communicated up the ladder, and addressed. For a company as ubiquitous in American culture as Starbucks this requires a steadfast understanding of the mixternal communications approach—that which is communicated internally will eventually go external, and external news should always be communicated internally first. Negate to acknowledge your employees as primary stakeholders and you risk losing them.

2. Take Ragan’s 6th annual Communications Benchmark Survey

Sometimes it can feel like you’re working in a vacuum, unsure of how your peers are handling the same communications challenges you’re working through.

Now, Ragan’s 6th annual Communications Benchmark Survey offers you the chance to gain a unique insight into the industry at large – and how your communications department compares. Take the survey now before it closes on December 14th.

3. Study shows employers cutting benefits due to costs, but are working to keep parents happy

Benefits are a big part of any organization’s employee value proposition. But as the economy shifts, some organizations have been cutting back on their benefit offerings to save money. However, one study by Glassdoor revealed that keeping working parents happy remains a top priority for many organizations, even amid these changes.

According to Fortune:

Even among the landscape of cost-cutting, though, benefits that focus on family — including adoption or fertility assistance and parental leave—have grown sharply, including since the pandemic.

There are two overlapping reasons for this, according to Glassdoor. The largest generation in the workplace—the millennials—are now in their 30s, the peak years for child raising. Their aging into parenthood coincided with the pandemic-era push to keep working parents on the job, where employers rolled out a slate of formal and informal perks to make it easier to work amid household responsibilities—from parental leave to flexible work schedules.

While it’s unfortunate to see benefits of any kind on the cutting room floor, the fact that employers appear to be at least looking at the generational breakdowns of their employee populations regarding parenting benefits is at least somewhat encouraging.

If you don’t know who your people are, it’s hard to provide them with what they need and even tougher to create a real communicative dialogue.

  1. The case for remote work strengthens as climate change wears on

There have been debates around remote work that have centered on culture, productivity, and much more. But there’s a new factor to consider — climate change.

According to the Harvard Business Review:

While we may hope to not see a global pandemic again anytime soon, the advantage of remote-work readiness extends beyond pandemics to include unforeseen natural disasters like snowstorms, floods, hurricanes, or wildfire smoke, which can swiftly impede worker mobility. Notably, firms equipped for remote work have demonstrated commendable resilience in the face of these events.

This adaptability not only safeguards operational continuity but can also result in substantial cost savings in the millions of dollars, illustrating the advantages of maintaining a remote-ready workforce beyond pandemic scenarios.

Remote work has lots of benefits — flexibility chief among them — but an increase in radical weather shifts bears watching as we go forward. Just as many organizations have commitments to sustainability,  commercial real estate a major factor in emissions means that working from home might not just be beneficial for employees, but for the planet too.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

COMMENT Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from directly in your inbox.