Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), the multibillion-dollar coffee company with more than 14,000 locations across the United States, has added a few big senior care services to its employee benefits package.
Moving forward, Seattle-based Starbucks will heavily subsidize up to 10 backup care days each year to help workers juggle their jobs and caregiving responsibilities, the company announced Tuesday. Under the new benefit, if a regular senior caregiver is unavailable, Starbucks employees can hire a backup in-home care provider for just $1 per hour — with the company picking up the rest of the cost.
One in five U.S. workers report they are currently providing assistance for older relatives and friends, according to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute. The vast majority of those workers say they have to take time off or make other work adjustments to provide that caregiving.
The new Starbucks benefit will also provide unlimited senior care planning at no cost and give employees a free premium membership to CapitalG-backed Care.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for finding and managing family care.
Care.com is backed by CapitalG, formerly known as Google Capital. It is the late-stage growth venture capital fund financed by Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL). In 2016, Google Capital invested more than $46 million in Care.com, making it the online resource’s largest shareholder.
Senior planning is coordinated with senior advisors who are master’s-level social workers employed by Care.com.
“This is giving our partners resources for things that happen in regular life,” Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks, said in a statement. “We wanted to give them something to help fill the gaps.”
The new benefits package from Starbucks — now in effect — marks the company’s latest effort to further support its tens of thousands of employees. Starbucks also offers mental health benefits and paid parental leave. Additionally, earlier this year, the company rolled out a benefit that allows U.S. employees to accrue paid sick time based on hours worked and use it for themselves — or for a family member who needs care.
Access to a premium Care.com membership — valued at about $147 — gives Starbucks employees the ability to search for or post jobs for one-time and recurring caregiving needs. Launched in 2006, Care.com currently has more than 30 million members in 20 countries.
“Employers like Starbucks have innovative thinking that goes beyond the required benefits,” Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Care.com founder and CEO, said in a statement.
The senior care planning portion of the new benefits package will connect Starbucks employees with a senior care advisor to help workers understand long-term caregiver options, housing alternatives, finances and legal concerns, according to the company.
Starbucks highlighted its new benefits package the same day activist investor Bill Ackman — and his hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management — announced a $900 million stake in the company.
In addition to covering backup care costs for adult caregiving services, Starbucks is also covering costs for up to 10 days of backup child care, including daycare services.
Starbucks has not disclosed the projected cost of the backup care benefit.
While the backup caregiving flexibility will likely help Starbucks’ workforce, it may also present another obstacle for home health and home care companies struggling to retain staff. In-home care providers have frequently expressed concerns related to losing workers to the rising wave of retail companies and fast-food chains boosting their minimum wage and employee benefits.
Written by Robert Holly