HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

HR news this week: Barista CEOs to gig worker woes

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

In this week’s round-up of HR news, one chief executive plans to connect with his organisation by becoming a barista. Also, the perk that can keep staff engaged, troubles for gig workers, and pay transparency benefits.

The CEO barista

As seen in Human Times’ 27 March bulletin, CNBC reported that Starbucks’ new CEO, Laxman Narasimhan revealed he would be working one shift a month as a barista at one of the company’s cafés.


According to CNBC, Mr Narasimhan underwent 40 hours of barista training to prepare for the initiative that he hopes will help him to understand the business better.

“To keep us close to the culture and our customers, as well as to our challenges and opportunities, I intend to continue working in stores for a half day each month, and I expect each member of the leadership team to also ensure our support centres stay connected and engaged in the realities of our stores for discussion and improvement,” said Mr Narasimhan.

This progressive decision can help a leader not only to understand the full scale of the business they’re operating but allows them to connect with those in less senior positions and gather new perspectives.

Perks to keep staff happy and boost performance

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) discussed workplace perks that will become more common throughout the year.

Financial wellbeing was the key topic, as employers are reportedly offering financial coaching to help staff through stressful times as the cost of living rises.

According to AFR, offering financial advice not only helps the employee through hard times of economic uncertainty but can also assist in retention and boost productivity.

Karen Oldaker, Medibank senior executive for wellbeing and community, noted that Medibank offers financial wellbeing programs.

“You can’t have a strong, thriving workplace if you’re not thinking about [the health] of your people – and obviously financial health comes with that,” said Ms Oldaker.

Gig economy suffering

As reported by Courier Mail, nearly half of all gig workers in Australia are earning below minimum wage.

The gig economy refers to independent contractors, with positions like Uber drivers and food delivery apps falling under this sphere.

According to the article, a McKell Institute study found that over 90 per cent of rideshare, courier, and food delivery workers want the government to better regulate the gig economy in Australia.

McKell estimates that around 112,000 Aussies could be earning less than the minimum wage.

“Although many food delivery, parcel delivery, and rideshare drivers are drawn to this work on the promise of flexible hours, this is unobtainable without the existence of fair, safe and sustainable standards,” said Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Michael Kaine.

“These findings reveal that the future of gig work is unsustainable for all involved unless enforceable standards for fair pay, decent conditions and job security are put in place.

“Global gig companies Uber, Menulog and DoorDash have recognised this and joined workers in pushing for reforms. Now it’s up to Parliament to pass legislation so that the Fair Work Commission can get on with creating a safety net for transport gig work so it can become truly flexible as well as fair.” 

Revealing salaries could motivate workers

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article that said revealing employee salaries can motivate staff to work harder.

According to studies referenced by WSJ, being transparent with pay means staff will see how they stack against colleagues and, in many cases, cause them to work harder to climb the ladder.

WSJ highlighted how public universities in the US have had pay transparency for years now, and this “spurred academics who found out they were overpaid compared with peers”.

The article claims this does more than just motivate less senior workers to climb the ranks, but also encourages the higher-ups to prove they’re worth the money they’re paid.


Minimum wage

The bare minimum that can be paid to a full-time worker each year is known as minimum wage. For temporary and part-time workers, this is prorated.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.