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Our Story Research - Kysesen Maravich - SHM
I have a much broader understanding of human resources within the hospitality industry because of my research experience. The research support I received gave me access to a wide range of tools and technology, which enhanced our data collection and our study.
Kysesen Maravich
Hospitality Management

Understanding employee behaviors is essential for a successful career in the human resources field, something Kysesen Maravich is well-positioned for, thanks to the opportunity to participate in a research project in the School of Hospitality Management.

A senior majoring in Hospitality Management and a Schreyer Honors Scholar, Maravich is investigating employee engagement, an area she feels passionate about.

Maravich is examining factors of the work environment that influence employee engagement in fun activities, as well as what variables that organizations can utilize to promote such activities to benefit employees. She is working under the guidance and mentorship of Michael Tews, associate professor of hospitality management. 

“In the hospitality industry, there is an emphasis on good human resources,” she said. “I want to pursue a career in human resources, and am interested in studying human behavior, because ultimately, good performance at a company comes from within – from the employees. Understanding human behavior could help companies perform better.” 

The goal of her study is to identify factors of the work environment that may strengthen or weaken employee engagement in fun activities, such as features of fun activities, organizational support, and individual differences in employees, according to Maravich. 

“Using a sample of employees across multiple sectors of the workforce, I distributed surveys asking participants about their experiences at work,” Maravich said. “Ultimately, we hope to further our understanding of how individuals assess the purpose and meaningfulness of fun activities in their place of work.”

This project not only gives Maravich hands-on experience in the research world, but allows her to examine parts of the hospitality industry that could provide her with additional knowledge and insight when she enters the field, she said. 

“I have a much broader understanding of the industry because of my research experience,” Maravich said.“Not only am I learning about the technical aspects of the industry through my undergraduate courses in the School of Hospitality Management, I am also learning about trends and current issues of the industry through my research.” 

Maravich said she hopes her project will inspire future research in this area, and also help students see different ways they can enhance their undergraduate experience. 

“I hope this research project serves as a platform to engage other students in looking at this work when learning and presenting to class, and also to pursue research of their own,” she said.

Maravich’s project was supported by a Smith Endowment from the College of Health and Human Development. She said the support allowed her to use tools and technology she wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

“Receiving research support means exploring all avenues of data collection,” she said. “I never felt limited about what I or my research team was able to accomplish. If you’re coming to Penn State in hopes of doing research you’ve definitely come to the right place. There’s so much support at Penn State to do research, including staff willing to work with you.”

“I’m so grateful for the faculty and staff in the School of Hospitality Management,” she added. “They are all so knowledgeable and all come from such a diverse background in the industry.”