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The mission of the HM People Project is to advance organizations’ success through new insights and knowledge derived from research in people-intensive service and hospitality enterprises. Our focus is on developing innovative strategies and best practices that empower industry to build and sustain a skilled, engaged, and diverse workforce. We are committed to being a leading source of expertise in people management in the hospitality sector and beyond by collaborating with partners to drive meaningful change.

Current Areas of Focus

Benchmarking Best Practices in Human Resource Management icon-olus-circle

Our research team is dedicated to benchmarking the best human resource management (HRM) practices in the hospitality industry, recognizing that the industry's success relies heavily on the people who work in it. While major brands have made it on different best workplaces lists, including Hilton, In-N-Out Burger, and Royal Caribbean (Glassdoor; 2021; Great Places to Work, 2021), there is still much to learn about what constitutes best HRM practices across the industry. Therefore, our benchmarking will focus on identifying best practices related to recruiting and selection, training and performance management, and compensation and benefits across a wide variety of hospitality enterprises. By highlighting the primary HRM factors that contribute to the success of the hospitality industry, we hope to provide insights and guidance for organizations to improve their HRM practices, resulting in better employee experiences, increased job satisfaction, and overall industry success.

Educating Future Hospitality Leaders icon-olus-circle

Our research team is committed to engaging alums, students, and the local community by fostering high-quality connections in various contexts. We have implemented various initiatives to achieve this goal, including virtual class days and in-class events that allow alums and community members to interact with students and share their experiences and expertise. Additionally, we prioritize student community bonding and have developed programs such as HR from Happy Valley podcast to share insights and best practices with the wider community. Moreover, we leverage innovative approaches such as Lego Serious Play and Lego Learning to enhance student engagement and creativity. Through these initiatives, we aim to build enduring connections that benefit our students, alums, and the wider community.

Innovative Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) icon-olus-circle

Our team's research involving diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the hospitality industry is an important endeavor that addresses the need for more inclusive practices and policies in this sector. By focusing on these issues, our team is exploring how to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for all employees, regardless of their background or identity. One key aspect of our research is examining the role of social support in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This includes looking at how peer support and mentorship can help employees from underrepresented groups feel valued and included. Additionally, our team is exploring the importance of leadership in fostering a culture of inclusivity and belonging. This involves identifying effective leadership strategies that promote diversity and equity, such as setting clear goals and expectations, providing training and resources, and holding individuals accountable for their behavior. By combining these various factors, our team is working towards creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace for all in the hospitality industry.

Promoting Social Justice icon-olus-circle

Our research team is dedicated to promoting social sustainability and social justice in the hospitality industry by incorporating fair chance hiring practices for justice-impacted employees. We recognize the challenges faced by individuals with criminal records and the stigmatization that often accompanies this mark. Through our research, we aim to identify factors that contribute to the retention of justice-impacted employees and advocate for their fair treatment in the workplace. By creating pathways to employment for these individuals, we believe the hospitality industry can play a vital role in promoting equity and justice in our society.

Enhancing Employee Health and Well-being icon-olus-circle

Our research team is dedicated to promoting employee health and well-being in the hospitality industry, with a particular focus on addressing problem drinking and drug use among employees. We recognize that employees in this industry are at a greater risk for these issues, and previous research has yet to fully examine how best to promote better health outcomes. Our team is committed to studying the impact of supportive organizational cultures and workplace relationships on reducing stressors associated with service work and promoting better health among employees. By examining these factors, we hope to identify strategies organizations can use to improve employee health and well-being in the hospitality industry. Ultimately, our goal in this area is to provide practical guidance to create a more supportive and inclusive work environment that prioritizes employee health and wellness, which can benefit both employees and organizations.

Cultivating Relationships in the Workplace icon-olus-circle

Our research team is dedicated to exploring the importance of relationships in the workplace, with a particular focus on friendship and the functions that relationships serve in the workplace. We believe that employee bonding and the development of high-quality connections between coworkers can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction, retention, and overall performance. Our team is committed to studying the factors that contribute to the formation of authentic relationships in the workplace, such as small, deep, and surface-level communication. We recognize that communication is a critical aspect of the workplace and that deep and surface-level communication both have their place in fostering positive relationships between employees. Additionally, our team looks at fostering positive work relationships through fun in the workplace. Through our research, we seek to promote a more positive and supportive work environment where employees can develop meaningful connections and thrive both personally and professionally.

Leading the HM People Project

Donna Quadri-Felitti, PhD, Marvin Ashner Endowed Director and Associate Professor

Michael Tews, PhD, Associate Professor

Phil Jolly, PhD, Assistant Professor

Sydney Pons, Doctoral Student