Starbucks Employees Carve Out Own Space’

By Ed Frauenheim

Nov. 6, 2007

Starbucks may not have an official corporate social networking site, but employees of the Seattle-based coffee chain still can connect online.

    A recent search for “Starbucks” under the “Companies/Co-workers” category at MySpace groups turned up 65 listings. These include groups at the popular social networking site focused on specific Starbucks stores, ex-Starbucks employees and criticism of the company. At “The Starbucks Crew” site, there’s a heated debate about unionizing.

    The most popular Starbucks company/co-worker group at MySpace is “Starbucks HQ.” With more than 4,800 members, the group bills itself as “the UNOFFICIAL Starbucks group site reserved for the purpose of edification, enlightenment, venting and expounding by Starbucks partners worldwide.” Recent postings address matters such as iced cappuccinos, transferring to different stores and “Top Ten Things I Would Say to Customers if I Knew I Wouldn’t Get Fired.”

    (The author, “Cho” from Boise, Idaho, ranked this as No. 1: ” ‘Gimme a grande coffee’ is not an appropriate response to ‘Hello! How are you today?’ “)

    Andrew Gonis, a 21-year-old Starbucks employee from Laguna Niguel, California, founded Starbucks HQ two years ago. His aim was to improve upon an existing Starbucks employee group full of “negativity” and spam. Gonis thinks he succeeded, as evidenced in part by the 20 to 30 new postings or replies every day.

    Despite his fondness for “Starbucks HQ,” Gonis would welcome an official Starbucks corporate social network. For one thing, it would relieve Gonis—who is taking college classes in restaurant management—of his heavy moderator duties.

    Starbucks did not respond to requests for comment.

    For now, Gonis logs on to Starbucks HQ multiple times a day to check for spam or approve new members. All the effort stems from his appreciation of Starbucks as an employer and the communal feelings he shares with other “partners.” Of the site, he says, “It’s an extension of your family, I guess.”

Workforce Management, October 22, 2007, p. 32Subscribe Now!

Ed Frauenheim is a former Associate Editorial Director at Human Capital Media and currently works as Senior Director of Content at Great Place to Work. He is a co-author of A Great Place to Work For All.

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