Around the world, an estimated 450 million people suffer from a mental health condition – making mental disorders one of the leading causes of ill health and disability. And what’s likely contributing to that number? Stress in the workplace.

People spend most of their time during the week in the workplace, and with a looming mental health crisis across the globe, employers are stepping up to take action. This month Starbucks addressed the issue head on by rolling out innovative solutions to provide their employees with new benefits and policies that take their mental health into account.

In its first leadership conference for employees since 2014, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson took the floor in Chicago to speak with 12,000 store managers from its U.S. and Canadian locations. While the conference explored a variety of topics, the company allocated two sessions of the agenda for mental health.

Check out a couple of the highlights from their new plan:

Employee Assistance Program

Starbucks’ existing program, which provides short-term counseling to U.S.-based employees, will now include input from employees and mental health experts. In the second quarter of 2020, Starbucks managers will begin their own training course inspired by programs that teach others how to help someone with a mental illness. Starbucks will also offer employees subscriptions to Headspace, a mental health app, starting in January.

Administrative Task Reduction

Starbucks customers desire immediacy and convenience, but due to an overwhelming number of administrative tasks that have to be completed daily, employees aren’t able to spend enough time focusing on customers as much as they’d like to. To remove some of the burden, Starbucks plans to automate, reduce or completely eliminate an additional 17 hours’ worth of work each week.

“Through strategic, long-term investments in labor hours, training and streamlining tasks and processes critical to running a store, we will work to alleviate some of the pressure and stress that often limits our store managers to lead and grow,” shared Johnson in a letter to employees.

Why This Matters – 

With even more resources set to release in the coming weeks, the coffee chain’s new policies highlight an important take on the mental health crisis by helping to define the responsibility of an employer for the care and well-being of their employees.

“If we take a positive step forward, you know, sometimes that can be a catalyst for others to take a positive step forward and create a movement,” said Johnson in an interview with CNBC.

While some smaller, forward-thinking brands have stepped up already to incorporate longer breaks, mental health days and even shorter work weeks, Starbucks is one of the larger corporations to bring new initiatives to the table for their teams. As we continue to solve for the burnout crisis affecting more than half of physicians in the United States, there may be something to learn from Starbucks’ approach.

About the Author:

Khye Tucker is an Innovation Strategist in Columbus, OH. With a passion for writing and a background in communications, Khye strives to bring brand stories to life through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking and creative storytelling.