- Starbucks is taking steps to improve its employees' mental health, including improvements to its mental healthcare benefits offerings, the company's president and CEO, Kevin Johnson, said in a letter published Thursday.
- The company currently provides inpatient and outpatient mental health care for staff members, CNN Business reported, including coverage for six free visits to a mental health provider through its employee assistance program (EAP). But only 4% to 5% of employees actually make use of the benefit, Johnson told CNN. Per the letter, Johnson said Starbucks would roll out an "enhanced" EAP that will be "co-created with partners and qualified mental health experts to connect more partners to quality care that meets their specific needs."
- Other additions include mental health training for store managers, employee subscriptions to meditation and sleep app Headspace and partnerships with the non-profit Born This Way Foundation and veterans organization Team Red, White & Blue.
Starbucks has been a leader in providing creative benefits to retail workers. The company announced last year that it would provide up to 10 days of subsidized backup caregiving to workers' children, adults or senior family members. It also announced in 2018 a pilot program to allow some workers to split their 40-hour workweek between working in a Starbucks store location and working at a local Points of Light affiliate.
That the company aims to boost its mental health offerings is noteworthy, especially as the issue takes a prominent place in healthcare discussions globally. Retailers in particular are rolling out solutions to make aspects of the job, like scheduling, simpler on the employee side while acknowledging the productivity gains such moves may also bring. Surveys of large employers indicate both financial and mental well-being benefits are increasingly seen as essentials for job seekers and employees.
It appears such benefits are needed. Employee stress has increased significantly in the past two years alone, a March CareerCast survey found. A study by insurer Colonial Life estimated that costs from absenteeism and reduced performance and morale as a result of on-the-job stress could total billions in losses for employers. Despite these data points, most workers in a May survey by behavioral health service Ginger said that while they're stressed, they don't have easy access to tools or resources that could help.
Organizations looking to improve their benefits offerings in this space might look to external resources for guidance. The U.S. Department of Labor launched a toolkit in April to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues among employers. Training for front-line managers may emerge as a priority on this front: A recent survey of HR professionals that only 16% felt managers were properly trained to identify an employee experiencing a mental health issue.