Like many state and local governments, Hawaii has pushed the minimum hourly wage up above the federal rate of $7.25. The Aloha State’s minimum wage is currently $7.75 per hour, and will be growing to $10.10 per hour over the next several years.
That means restaurants like Monkeypod Kitchen will have to keep an even more watchful eye on labor costs, says Christie Snopko, human resources director at the restaurant, which has locations on Oahu and Maui.
“Most of our staff is minimum wage because we’re in the service industry,” she says. “That is quite a big jump from $7.75, so it will be increasingly important to make sure we’re hitting our budgeted labor figures.”
Employing sophisticated scheduling technology that allows tracking of sales, labor costs, and overtime issues can help restaurants meet the increased minimum wage pressures—as well as new overtime and on-call regulations, and the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.
Monkeypod Kitchen uses HotSchedules, a system that provides overtime alerts and tracks real-time labor costs, plus allows employees to access their own schedules via an app, which Snopko says makes changing schedules much easier than on paper.
“Schedule fluctuations can be a little bit hard to keep track of. On the weekends there could be close to 70 or 80 people on staff. When you have people calling you all day, being able to keep track of all those changes can be burdensome,” she says. “This is much more straightforward.”
Systems like HotSchedules allow restaurants to trim payroll dollars by keeping employees from clocking in early or clocking out late for their shifts. For instance, Monkeypod Kitchen only allows employees a five-minute window to clock in surrounding their scheduled shift: two minutes before their scheduled clock-in time and up to three minutes after. Anyone trying to clock in outside that window must seek a manager’s approval.
“If everybody’s clocking in 20 minutes early over a month or two, the costs can go up pretty significantly,” says Anthony Lye, the CEO of HotSchedules. “There’s a lot of structure and discipline needed that I think most restaurants haven’t had, largely because they haven’t had a good technology platform to deliver it.”
Lye says restaurants, facing increased competition for workers, have started to give more flexibility to employees, allowing them to easily make schedule changes themselves, and there’s more collaboration between management and the front line, as evidenced by programs like HotSchedules.