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Why This Restaurant Chain Has Started Using VR to Train Empl…

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In this series, The Fix, Entrepreneur Associate Editor Lydia Belanger shares her conversations with founders and executives whose solutions to inefficiencies can inspire others to find new ways to save themselves time, money or hassle. 

Every new hire at Honeygrow, a fast-casual chain that specializes in stir-fry and salads, sits through a training session, as is standard in the foodservice industry. They hear about protocol for cleaning up messes, stocking the fridge and preparing menu items. But they don’t learn these protocols by donning an apron and shadowing someone who knows the ropes. Nor do they pore over a thick handbook or passively sit through a safety video.

Instead, they put on a virtual reality headset, tour a Honeygrow location with a 360-degree view and hear about company values from founder and CEO Justin Rosenberg, who virtually stands before them. Everyone who starts at Honeygrow, across 17 (and counting) locations, has the same immersive and engaging training experience.

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“We like to do things a bit differently here,” the pre-recorded virtual Rosenberg says after introducing himself. “So for example, we get to onboard you and train you through VR.”

By the time new hires are ready for training, many of them (mainly managers for now) have already seen some of the VR training features during their interviews. Honeygrow also uses this experience, which it developed in collaboration with Philadelphia-based Klip Collective, as a recruiting tool.

Those who experience Honeygrow’s VR training watch real-life employees in action, in addition to playing a game in which they virtually stock an animated walk-in refrigerator. The game is complete with background music, punctuated by animal sounds that play when users place a computer-animated cow, chicken, pig and fish on shelves using a remote control — and falling confetti when they complete the game successfully.

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