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This is a Retail innovation from The 70 Best Trend-Driven Innovations of 2019.


Last month, Starbucks announced improvements to its employees’ mental healthcare benefits. The company will be offering a new version of its employee assistance program (EAP) by partnering with experts in the field of mental health in order to make sure the program serves employees’ real needs. In addition to the plan changes, Starbucks will also provide mental health training for store managers, offer subscriptions to the meditation app Headspace, and partner with the Born This Way Foundation and veterans organization Team Red, White & Blue. 

Starbucks has been a leader in employee benefits for some time! Here are two key takeaways from its latest initiative:

THE BURNOUT. Amid a growing focus on wellbeing and an epidemic of exhaustion, individuals are finally confronting their demanding lifestyles and unrealistic personal and professional standards. 76% of workers believe that employers are responsible for employees’ wellbeing and health – up from 68% in 2015. And employers, in turn, are stepping up: Ernst & Young recently introduced more flexible work schedules and up to 12 weeks of unpaid ‘life leave’ for its Australian employees; and Walmart will soon begin offering college degrees in health and wellness to its employees. Are you supporting the mental health needs of your employees? What services could you offer or standards could you embrace to help prevent burnout?

One problem, many solutions. To tackle this issue, Starbucks is rolling out a number of initiatives. It didn’t just give employees a meditation app subscription and call it a day. The team earnestly ventured to make the benefits program more comprehensive, since only a small percentage of employees actually made use of the existing offering. This approach acknowledges how complex burnout and mental health can be and that there is no silver bullet for everyone. Think about your employee programs. Do they offer practical solutions for each person? What supporting efforts would make them more robust?


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