Monkeypod Kitchen Relies on Technology to Improve Efficiency

Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman was able to reduce turnover from 130 to 77 employees in two years at one of its locations.
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman was able to reduce turnover from 130 to 77 employees in two years at one of its locations. Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman

Christie Snopko, the director of human resources at Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman in Hawaii, readily sums up the restaurant’s foray into technology. “I’ve worked with and without it,” she says. “It’s definitely a heck of a lot nicer with it.”

There are few aspects of the brand, which has units in Wailea, Maui, and Ko Olina, Oahu, that aren’t digital. They deploy four of HotSchedules’ online systems—HotSchedules, Logbook, GoHire, and Schoox. The results, Snopko says, have made the idea of “life before” almost difficult to even consider. “I don’t remember what it was like,” Snopko jokes. “Maybe I don’t want to?”

From a human resources perch, Snopko immediately saw the benefits. In 2012 when she was hired, her first major task involved hiring more than 150 employees at the Ko Olina expansion. Snopko says finding the right fit—not to mention workers who actually want to stick around—is one of the industry’s toughest challenges. GoHire helped the process in a few ways.

To start, the system allows Snopko to curate the questions before the interviewing begins, meaning that she can set certain criteria and explore specific topics before meeting potential candidates. “There’s standard questions that come with the software and there’s also ones that you can customize,” she explains. “So you can customize those questions and rank their importance to your organization.” Things like wine and beverage knowledge, and brand familiarity are some examples.

Snopko says she can also pre-screen candidates ahead of the actual face-to-face meeting, which, she points out, still remains crucial. “Of course, you still want to have that interaction with someone because, just like anything, it can look really good on paper but once you experience it, it might not be so nice,” she says.

The data backs up Snopko’s sentiments. She says turnover decreased from 130 to 77 in two years, and that can be credited to several factors. “This allows us to be a little more selective. So that we can, again, get those people that are a good fit for our company,” Snopko says. “Those are going to be the people that are going to be more engaged and want to be here long term. If they’re not into what we’re doing they’re just going to be that warm body that’s going through the motions.”

On her end, the process moves much quicker and is a lot easier to keep track of. Employees can be onboarded online, basically erasing piles of paper work resulting from employee manuals, I-9s, W-4s, and other forms.

“When they actually come to the building, it’s me verifying their documents. They fill out a tax form, and our parking form,” she says. “And that’s pretty much it. And we go over more things that are related to the company and our brand, our mission, and our values. … It definitely saves the earth and makes it a little greener not having all that paper in storage. That’s always a big thing in restaurants, finding storage space.”

Another asset helping employee retention is Schoox, a social, online learning management system. There, Snopko can create an “academy” that places all of their training materials into one place. It can help employees learn about a menu change and take courses, anything ranging from multi-tasking to promoting a drug-free workplace. And, again, it helps with hiring as employees can enroll before they even walk in the door. “If employees are connecting to our company on a personal level, that’s going to increase our retention 100-fold,” she says.

HotSchedules allows managers to post training schedules and keep track of shifts. Snopko says this is important because it makes sure employees aren’t being worn down by overloaded, and sometimes overbooked, shifts. Managers download the app and can view it from a smart phone, or tablet. It can also be linked to any mobile device, so a text message can be sent to alert an employee of a shift change or upcoming schedule.

Logbook streamlined communications between managers, allowing for data such as sales counts, supply lines, maintenance logs, and notes on employees to be kept and shared digitally.

“Everything is done electronically for us now,” she says. “It’s super helpful. There’s no paper schedules or crazy spreadsheets anymore. It’s all like moving pieces of the puzzle around once you get the hang of it. It’s not starting from scratch every time.”

Danny Klein

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