Budget-Friendly Benefits: How Small Businesses Can Offer Big-Time Support (Part Two)


If you are running any form of coffee business (especially a coffee shop), this article will provide a great advice for you to enhance your workplace in order to not only motivate your employees but also to create a synergy effect for growing your business.

Make sure to check out the first part of this article series published by BARISTA MAGAZINE before reading this one !


In the first part of this series, we shared ways that small businesses could support the wellness of their employees while maintaining their budget. By providing avenues for staff to eat better, exercise, and invest in their mental health, shops can promote a happier, more productive workforce with a lower turnover. But the buck doesn’t end at an individual’s good health.

In-shop culture can deeply impact the quality of the lives of your employees, which can encourage them to stay on your team for the long haul. From educational opportunities to shift breaks, there are a number of ways to produce sustainably positive experiences for your employees without having to go broke.


Always Be Learning

Facilitating educational opportunities for staff can make your baristas feel more invested in, more capable, and more confident at work. Academically focused initiatives will ultimately support your baristas’ personal and professional development within your company. Everybody wins.


  • Host “viewing parties” of regional, national, and global coffee competitions in-store. This is a great way to keep your people engaged with competitive coffee events, and all it takes is a projector and a blank Wall.
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  • Gift subscriptions to any favorite coffee publication to your baristas. Many young coffee professionals are eager to learn about the larger coffee community, but lack the avenues to properly engage with them. Sending coffee news to your employees’ doorsteps is a great way to share the culture of the specialty coffee industry with your staff, from the comfort of their own home.
  • Offer raises to employees for achieving educational milestones, such as when they receive their Barista L1, or when they attend a local roaster’s training class. Note: While this doesn’t make education more accessible to your employees, it does incentivize your staff to pursue coffee education.
  • Consider hosting regular ‘calibration meetings’ where baristas can work on skill improvement alongside their peers and managers without the pressure of service. You’d be amazed how much a person can learn in an hour when they’re not being interrupted by customers.
  • Create an in-store resource library full of coffee, tea, and hospitality-oriented literature so that your staff can take their education into their own hands (literally).
  • Hang up educational posters in the break room—a form of passive education you might remember mentioned in my last series on creating an in-house barista training program.
  • Work with your management team to create leadership development programs and mentoring systems to empower your employees to learn relevant (but less coffee-focused) career skills.Other In-Store Benefits
    • Keep your baristas caffeinated with comped shift drinks. If you have a food menu, offer comped meals for those on shift as well. If you don’t have a food menu, make a snack basket that baristas can enjoy throughout the day. Hungry, under-caffeinated employees are far less productive—and far more grumpy—than well-fed, caffeinated employees.20170817_174622-1140x628
      • Offer discounts to employees who aren’t on the clock. Be generous with this discount—after all, it doesn’t hurt you to share your products with your baristas at cost, and it encourages your staff to try your menu items.
      • Schedule compassionately. Try to give your full-time employees two days off in a row. Consider making the schedule several weeks or months in advance so that folks have enough time to plan for life outside of work. Keep schedules as consistent as possible (read: no ‘clopens’). Consider giving your staff a paid day off on their birthday.
      • If your company roasts its own coffee, gift employees with a free bag of coffee to take home every week. The costs are low for you, and it’s a massive perk—no pun intended—for your people.
      • Offer commuter benefits or stipends for employees who take public transportation to and from work, or have to pay for parking in order to get to work. It’s an initiative that can be just as environmentally forward as it is staff-supportive.
      • Not all baristas are single 20-somethings who are working their way through college. Consider extending employee perks to their immediate family. Partner with a nearby daycare center to provide discounted childcare to your employees with families. After all, if we want our industry to support career coffee professionals, we should consider the needs of our employees’ families as much as we consider the needs of our individual employees.




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