Cool Course: Human Resource Management
We know what you’re thinking: HRM, cool? It is if you plan to start your own food business or work in management positions in food and hospitality companies. This is stuff you need to know, and the CIA Human Resource Management class is where you’ll learn it.
Led by Associate Professor of Business Management Lynne Eddy, the class applies human resources principles directly to the foodservice environment. “We customized the course so that we address HRM from the kitchen/bakeshop/restaurant perspective,” she says. “My expectation is that my HRM students will enter the food industry knowing the right way to manage staff and personnel.”
Good HRM is good business
Why is this so important? “Salaries and associated benefits are generally your most costly operating expense,” Professor Eddy says. “So managing human resources will directly affect your bottom line.”
That’s why the senior-level course covers important topics like labor law, recruitment, unions, wages, training, employee performance, compensation, health and safety, and more—all as they relate to the food industry.
Guest lecturers recently visited the class to share their expertise on demographics and immigration law—the last two topics covered before the HRM students present their final capstone project (more on that later).
“The reason we look at demographics is to figure out, ‘Who is our workforce?’,” Professor Eddy explained. “Demographics may also influence what food you’re serving in your restaurant.”
For a deep dive into demographics, the class welcomed Steve McKenna, director of field operations for consulting firm DM&A, where many of his clients come from the health care segment of foodservice. He discussed the characteristics of the different generations students will encounter in the workforce and as their customers, from Veterans to Gen Z. “Each generation brings its own set of experiences, values, beliefs, and desires,” he said. “To bridge the gap between them, we need to embrace differences.”
Immigration and the foodservice industry
Kicking off his lecture with a welcoming, “Good morning, fellow immigrants!,” New York City-based Attorney Jeffrey Margolis, Esq. talked about the history and current state of immigration and immigration law in the U.S.
Mr. Margolis explained the difference between non-immigrant visas and immigrant visas (a.k.a., “green cards”) and walked the students through the many specific types in both categories, along with examples of how each pertained to the food industry. One such example: “We are in the era of audits and enforcement, with immigration agents going into restaurants and asking to see I-9s [which document eligibility to work in the U.S.] for every employee,” he said. “About 20 to 30 percent of employees in restaurants are undocumented; restaurants are actually closing down because of the raids. There is a great demand for hospitality workers—which is good news for you guys—but how will you fill those back-end positions?”
A final project that keeps on giving
It’s thought-provoking discussions and lectures like these that get CIA students thinking about how they can apply good HRM practices to the businesses they will run or work for in the future. It’s also food for thought for their Human Resource Employee Handbook, which they work on in teams throughout the semester. Each team creates a sample employee manual that describes in detail how they would implement HRM for a fictional hospitality business. At the end of the course, the teams present their plans as their final capstone project—and many go on to use them professionally.
“I hear from graduates all the time that they still reference their capstone project from the course,” Professor Eddy says. “They tell me, ‘I could never run my kitchen if I hadn’t taken this class!’”
Now that’s pretty cool.