Is Starbucks unique in being able to provide a high level of benefits to its employees?
I think that Starbucks is unique in its treatment of employees for a couple of reasons. The first is that employees actually have a very positive view of their company. In an age where business mistreatment of employee and the resentment of the latter towards the former is so prevalent, Starbucks employees buck that trend. The extension of health care benefits to Starbucks employees is one such area in which the treatment or benefits to the employees is different than other companies. Consider that Starbucks' commitment to health care for its employees actually costs more than the purchase of raw materials for its coffee. That is unique. Such a commitment helps to illuminate the Starbucks business model in which employee satisfaction is vitally important to the development of the company's business:
The challenge to Starbucks, in Schultz’s view, was how to attract, motivate, and reward store employees in a manner that would make Starbucks a company that people would want to work for and that would result in higher levels of performance. Moreover, Schultz wanted to cement the trust that had been building between management and the company’s workforce.
This fundamental premise behind how Starbucks would approach the relationship with its employees is unique not because of its position on it, but that Schultz and management aggressively pursued it more than simply leaving it in company's mission statement. Moving it from theory to reality is where Schulz and Starbucks is fundamentally different from other companies.