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What are Starbucks military family stores?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Forget unicorn frappuccinos, Starbucks has just launched something even better.

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Starbucks in the news

If you’ve been online this week reading news or social media, you’ve likely come across legions of posts about Starbucks. While that unicorn frappuccino did look enticing, the latest, coolest, Starbucks news has nothing to do with their brightly colored beverages.

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Instead, it announces the launch of Starbucks’ “military family stores.”

Starbucks newest launch

“Military Family Stores” are staffed primarily by veterans and military spouses as part of Starbucks effort to employ service member and their families nationwide.

So far, 37 of these stores have been launched.

Located near military bases, all of these stores offer the same thing: a warm atmosphere, thick with familiar military feelings (like Starbucks mugs with the logo “Proudly serving those who’ve served”), and support for military groups such as Blue Star Families, Team Red White and Blue, and Tragedy Assistant Programs for Survivors. Many of these stores also offer “Military Mondays;” a collaboration between local veteran service organizations and Starbucks that offers pro bono legal support and other veteran and military spouse services at the company’s stores.

Starbucks stated in their recent press release that they plan to dedicate 100 more military stores across the U.S. over the next five years.

These stores focus on, “helping to create a culture of understanding between military and non-military customers – an important step toward ensuring service men and women experience smooth transitions back into the civilian world.”

Why it matters

More than 453,000 veterans were unemployed in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of these veterans are also homeless. Can you imagine serving your country, being discharged, and then having nowhere to go because you have no family, no paycheck, and no idea what you might like to do with the rest of your life?

If your life has been focused on your service and training, deciding what the next step should be can be scary.

While VA hospitals and counseling centers are available to veterans, they are often overcrowded, underfunded, and unable to keep up with the many veterans who need quality care.

A sense of community

Veterans and their families need a place to go for support and comradery. For many veterans, once their service is over, they feel lost because they no longer have that familiar connection to those who have similar experiences and backgrounds. Oftentimes, this can lead to isolation, depression, and the worsening of service and battle-related illnesses and conditions. Starbucks has long been hailed as a favorite hangout for students and businesspeople, so it seems like a logical step for Starbucks to be a preferred spot for veterans to come and connect.

Starbucks is making their “Military Family Stores” about more than just connecting, however.

The company committed to hiring 25,000 veteran and military spouses by 2025 and this seems to be a large stepping stone towards that goal. John Kelly, a Starbucks senior vice president stated to Fox News, “service members and military spouses are the best example of engaged citizens. Long after leaving active duty, they continue to vote, volunteer, and serve their communities at a high rate, serving as the best examples of citizenships. We are honored to serve as a place where these American heroes can continue to impact their community in a positive way.”

Giving back

My favorite part of Starbucks’ new program is the “Adopt a Military Unit” program. Stores participating in this program sponsor military units and send care packages to active duty military while they are deployed. There are so many soldiers that do not have someone to send them packages while they are deployed. Kudos to Starbucks for taking these steps to help provide for our service men and women, not only physically with jobs and care packages, but also with mental and emotional support by giving them a renewed sense of belonging and an outlet to express their experiences with people who will know all too well what they’ve been through – support is one of the best things you can offer anyone, especially someone who’s served.

While this certainly isn’t a magical fix for the struggles many veterans face, it is nice to see such a large corporation making an effort to take care of our veterans who are so frequently forgotten.Click To Tweet

If you or a veteran you know is struggling, please contact the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat online to a counselor or send a confidential text message to 838255.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Business News

The sad truths you missed about the US Women’s Soccer Team lawsuit

(NEWS) The US Women’s Soccer team dominated headlines by suing for equal pay, but there was so much more to the lawsuit that could have a ripple effect in the business world.

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Recently, on International Women’s Day, the United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The timing of the suit is not only a sign of the team continuing their decades long fight against the organization (only three months before they are set to defend their World Cup title in France), but a recognition of the symbol that they have become in the larger battle that women and other minorities are waging in order to be given the same resources as the men leading in their fields.

It should go without saying that the women’s soccer team is unparalleled in its athletic success: over the past twenty years they have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. These players, as ESPN acknowledges, are among the most accomplished and best known women athletes in the world.

Their counterpart, the Men’s National Soccer Team, leaves much to be desired (they failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, for example) yet they consistently receive much more support from the US Soccer Federation.

Although the pay disparity between the USWNT and the male soccer team is certainly stark, the “gains” that the women athletes are fighting for go beyond monetary compensation.

According to Mashable, “This [suit] includes how women frequently play on a dangerous artificial surfaces when the men do not, fly commercial when the men travel by more convenient, comfortable charter flights, and the alleged allocation of fewer resources to promote women’s games compared to men’s.”

As if being the best players in your sport in the world and having to share hotel rooms after getting torn apart by the seams astroturf and receiving less-than-world-class medical care wouldn’t be infuriating enough, it’s truly this final point that highlights the glaring mistreatment of the USWNT.

Without support from the US Soccer Federation, not only in the form of payment but in promotion of their games and general good-will toward their players, the USWNT will not be able to grow their following so that they can establish a consistent revenue near what the men’s team attracts. This “lack” of revenue continues to create the chicken/egg excuse that the Federation has for not propping up the USWNT like they deserve.

It’s simply the opposite of “sportsmanship” for the US Soccer Federation to use these players’ love of playing the game (that, again, they are the best in the world at) and their country as a way to gaslight them into playing for less.

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Business News

Think about automating tasks instead of replacing workers

(BUSINESS) Automation is great, unless you obsess over it and try to cut down on payroll – there’s a smarter approach that successful businesses take.

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The concept of automating your workflow is a tempting one — especially as payroll continues to be one of the evergreen highest costs of business. However, in contemplating how to streamline your workflow, you may do better to step back from the idea of “replacing workers” and instead think about you can optimize your existing employees by strategically tweaking their workflow.

As Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau write in The Harvard Business Review, if the goal of automating is to ensure that your company is operating at its most cost effective and efficient levels, then chances are you’d still need knowledgeable employees to help you scale and capitalize.

Where automation can truly help your business is by transforming the ability of your organization to focus on the tasks that truly require a human touch or deep knowledge. For example, automation will not help your employees perform complex, interactive, or creative work like collaborating with clients to come up with solutions or designs.

However, it can help the process of brainstorming or co-designing these solutions easier by replacing some of the mechanical tasks that aid this high-level workflow.

For example, it may be helpful to automate basic research tasks for your designers. If your designers must create a client profile to help them launch their projects — basic information must surely exist at some other point in the process before this point. Maybe your firm has an intake form or contracts where a basic description of the goal of the contracted service has been created. By automating the sharing of that data between departments, perhaps in a content management system, you’d be able to free up time that the designers might spend on basic data collection so that they could instead use it for their more complex, empathetic work.

Jesuthasan and Boudreau offer up other advice for thinking about which specific tasks within your company’s workflow are the best candidates for automation.

Is a task simple? Routine? Does it require collaboration?

These kinds of inquiry are not only useful when thinking about your organizational processes, but they are good refreshers for thinking about the individual value and skills that your organization and its workers offer clients.

So instead of looking at how to cut down on payroll, consider automation as an option to improve the value you’re getting from your team, and freeing them from mind-numbing tasks that have nothing to do with their expertise. Win-win!

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Business News

Megabrand, Amazon failing to support their working parent employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Policies are changing at American companies to be up to par in supporting parents, but Amazon, despite being one of the most profitable companies in history, is not one of the evolving brands.

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Households in which both parents work is so much the norm in this country that we rarely ask new mothers if they’ll go back to work knowing it’s only a matter of when they’ll go back to work.

And once new mothers re-enter the workplace, the expectation of their time rarely changes to account for their new status as working mothers. Schedules change and so do childcare needs.

However, some progressive companies are changing their policies to accommodate their employees’ need for childcare, but Amazon isn’t one of them. Yet.

Dubbing themselves the Momazonians, a group of working mothers at Amazon is demanding that the online retail giant provide a back-up childcare benefit.

Back-up child care, for the uninitiated, is a perk that offers workers access to subsidized care for the times when school is closed, reliable childcare is temporarily unavailable, or in the event of sickness or emergency.

Why is this important? For starters, women who return to work shortly after giving birth are often left feeling unsupported and burdened by their choice to continue their careers instead of feeling empowered to enter into the next chapter or phase of their career.

Some companies believe that babies just aren’t good for business and once a woman makes the choice to expand her family, she’s often passed over for promotions or thought to no longer prioritize her career. Of course, these companies are wrong and that’s why it’s important for working mom’s to feel empowered to make their voices heard.

Will the Momazonians make any headway in getting the help they deserve? Time will tell.

They’ll be meeting in the next few weeks in an attempt to make a deal. However, whether or not Amazon complies with their demands, it’s worth thinking about for companies pondering parental policies in the future. As more and more millennials are marrying and having children later in life and thus further along in their careers, it would behoove companies to offer more flexible benefits to families. While it may seem cheaper to hire entry-level employees, in the long run, it’s more cost effective to hold onto experienced workers.

What’s more, while it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to have it all, companies could make it easier to at least manage work-life balance better. When you offer mothers and fathers flex-time and work-from-home benefits, or even subsidized care, you are purchasing peace of mind and a peace-filled mind is a productive one.

Any woman who has gone back to work knows the hardest part of their day is dropping off their new little one in someone else’s care so why not make these transitions easier if it means holding on to experience? In the long term, it leads to employee retention. Children aren’t children forever and if they’re parents are offered support, those parents will probably perform better.

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