Hospitality Management Students Use Innovative Employee Assessment Technology

11-06-2013
Students working at laptops

Innovative technologies are changing the way hotels manage the guest experience. In an industry sharply focused on driving guest loyalty through top service, hiring the right employees is essential to a profitable operation. For the students in the School of Management Hospitality Management major, keeping up with the exciting developments in the field helps them to understand how technology can directly impact the bottom line and ultimately, help them to be more successful in their careers. To enhance the curriculum, the Department of Hospitality Management continuously looks to introduce new technologies. Most recently, Logi-Serve’s up-and-coming employee assessment technology was introduced to David Jones’s BUS 482 Hospitality Human Resources and Labor Relations class, and the students were able to put the technology to use on themselves.

Dr. Chris Cunningham, Chief Science Officer of Logi-Serve, a leading company in employee assessment technology specializing in the hospitality and service fields, joined BUS 482 via video-conference. Dr. Cunningham taught the students about scientific selection, which is the process of collecting and evaluating data pertaining to possible job-candidates. “In any industry, human resources are the most valuable resources,” said Dr. Cunningham, who holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. “This holds especially true for service-related industries. Using scientific selection, managers have the ability to identify strong candidates, reduce turnover, lower absenteeism and misconduct, and help to guide organizational culture changes. In short, scientific selection uses data to back up what we often experience as a gut feeling or a hunch.”

During the class session, Dr. Cunningham guided the students in a walk-through of Logi-Serve’s online employee assessment tool, an example of scientific selection as it applies to the hospitality management sector. After the walk-through, the students had the opportunity to complete the assessment themselves as it related to a hotel front desk service position, and then evaluate their own results against their perceptions of themselves. This exercise allowed for the students to gain deeper insight into the technology as it applies to personality traits, performance, perceptions, and overall fit for a particular position in the service industry.

“You are going to run into this technology in your careers in hospitality management,” said Dr. Cunningham, “and when you do, it’s important that you know how to analyze its quality. So what to look for in a test? Start with whether the tool is reliable? The test-retest reliability has to be high. If the candidate takes the same test days or weeks or months later the results should be consistent; otherwise the measurements may be capturing error more than meaningful information about candidates. The test also shouldn’t be too long or too boring. It needs to be engaging and face-valid, so that the candidate understands that the test isn’t pointless. There needs to be strategic value for your organization. It is also important to know that these tests only work with the support of the executive leadership. They need to understand what the test measures and how to use it.”

USF’s Hospitality Management program actively incorporates leading-edge technology into coursework. Dr. Jones believes this kind of hands-on training in newly developing technology is of the utmost importance for the students and their future careers. He noted, “future success will require deploying new technologies that bring greater levels of scientific rigor and analysis to the hospitality management industry. The students need to see examples of how technology is being applied to our industry in ways that directly impact the bottom line,” and Logi-Serve couldn’t agree more. “Only a handful of universities and programs give students an opportunity to see what’s out there,” said Dr. Cunningham of Logi-Serve, “and it’s an opportunity for you to see the possibilities of scientific selection, and for us to showcase our new product.”

“USF is showing leadership and vision in incorporating new technology tools like Logi-Serve into its curriculum,” said Eric Krohner, CEO of Logi-Serve. “[USF] understands that business students need to be comfortable with the latest tools that can be deployed to aid in developing a workforce that delivers on the promise of quality guest experiences and improving employee performance.”

Written by Inge Lamboo