Caring for Our Partners and Customers during COVID-19

A letter to our Canadian partners (employees) from Lori Digulla, president of Starbucks Canada

Dear Partners,

I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart. The flexibility and responsibility I’m seeing in every store I’ve been in since we started to modify our operations in response to COVID-19 as well as the continued Best Moments for our customers and each other is amazing. There have been new processes and changes to adapt to in our stores, and in our personal lives, all while experiencing the uncertainty of what’s next. I know this can be hard and heavy, and I thank you so very much for your courage to lead through it.

The best way I can stay present is to stay centred on what’s important. I remind myself with every new report or government decision that I, and all Starbucks leaders, will make the best decisions when we are grounded in partner care, the important role we play in our communities, decision-making based in facts and science, combined with frequent communication.

Over the last two weeks we have activated precautions in all stores nationwide – from increased cleaning and sanitizing to pausing reusable cups – we expanded catastrophe pay for partners impacted by COVID-19 so you never have to choose between work and taking care of your health, and we enacted travel-related self-isolation requirements to support social distancing.

We considered what else we could do to support social distancing and discourage prolonged social gatherings, given this is important to curbing the spread of the virus. Starting today, and for at least two weeks:

We are temporarily moving all stores to a “to go” model. These are the actions we know are effective based on our experience in China and here’s what you can expect:

  • We are removing all seating, including all café and patio seating
  • Café, Mobile Order & Pay (MOP), Drive Thru and Delivery will still be open
  • We are modifying the condiment bar in all stores
  • We are modifying the MOP handoff plane on a store by store basis
  • We are integrating a change in our cash handling procedure, moving to a planted partner at the POS and Drive Thru Window, and allowing (but not requiring) gloves for partners in these roles.

We are temporarily closing company-operated stores in high-social gathering locations like stores located in malls that don’t have exterior/street access, and in colleges and universities.  

We have also begun leaning into additional measures on a store-by-store basis, including reducing operating hours or temporarily closing select stores.

These changes start today and will last for at least two weeks. All stores in Canada will move to the “to go” model by Wednesday, and these closures will be complete by the end of the week. [Starbucks ceo] Kevin Johnson outlined those options in a letter last week and we will continue to monitor facts at a local level to make the best decision for each community we’re honoured to be a part of.

We connected with your field leaders and store managers, and they are ready to work with you to make these temporary changes and ensure partners are feeling fully supported. We’re sorry, that for the time being, customers will not be able to sit in our stores and enjoy the Third Place we work so hard to offer them every day. This decision was not made lightly as we know the important role our stores play in service of our communities and how our customers enjoy our seating as an important part of their daily lives. I find some comfort knowing that most of our customers already get their order “to go,” many of our customers who typically use our café seating are also used to visiting us at MOP and Drive Thru, and the growing importance of social distancing and curbing larger gatherings is really about keeping them, you, and all of us safer.

Partner care is the top priority and we will take care of anyone impacted by these changes. Our expanded Catastrophe Pay program, which was shared last week, will apply when you are unable to work due to you or someone close to you having symptoms or confirmed diagnosis, or due to a store closure. We have also decided to supplement partner pay with Catastrophe Pay when working partners experience a reduction in scheduled hours. 

To further assist partners who may experience financial hardships, Starbucks has also made the decision to invest up to an additional $10 million into the emergency financial aid CUP Fund and other resources globally to support partners’ needs beyond pay. As you know, the CUP Fund was put in place to help partners during times of special need and we are currently reviewing the eligibility categories and approval process to expedite grants during these uncertain times. We will have updated partner FAQs and more information published for you in a few days. In the meantime, please remember and remind each other of all the support available to you including  paid sick time, access to health care resources, as well as support like our free Headspace subscriptions, and our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free mental health counseling for all partners. And remember – the Partner Resources Support Center (888-SBUX-411), your field leaders, and every support partner are all here to help. 

I expect things will continue to evolve before COVID-19 is past us, and we will continue to prioritize what’s best for you, your families and our customers, informed by science and facts. All 23,000 of us have already proven ourselves nimble, courageous and so true to our culture, I’ve never felt prouder to be a partner. Again, THANK YOU so very much and I sincerely look forward to the day we can welcome all our customers to come sit and stay in our wonderful Third Place of warmth and belonging.

With gratitude,

Lori Digulla

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