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Human Resources in the Restaurant Industry

By Angie Buonpane, Director of Human Resources, Union Square Hospitality Group

After working in Human Resources for 25+ years, I was fortunate enough to enter the restaurant industry about five years ago. I have always enjoyed working in this discipline, but never as much as when I joined the Union Square Hospitality Group. Besides the fact that I am passionate about food, I have had an extraordinary opportunity to work with an incredible team of human beings and at the same time have direct contact with so many employees at all levels of the organization. The restaurant industry essentially exists to care for people. At USHG, one of our "Five Tenets of Hospitality" is to take care of each other first, and we believe that in doing so, we’ll better take care of our guests.

HR Beliefs

Our HR team truly believes in taking care of each and every employee who "walks through our door." They might be coming to ask a question about their benefits, available training programs, their paychecks or just a question on "how do I take the next steps in my career?" These are important issues that affect our employees lives, and in these instances an employee gets the opportunity to be our guest!

More than "Personnel"

When Human Resources began as a discipline in the 60s, it functioned primarily as the "Personnel" department. Today HR does so much more - recruitment, organizational design and development, change and performance management, employee and labor relations, workforce analysis, compliance, employee data management, compensation, benefits management , training and development - and sometimes we’re just the place where people go to "talk."

As more and more restaurant groups centralize their HR functions, Human Resources has become a real and viable career choice in our industry. Many restaurant employees have more related experience than they realize; managers are handling work related issues, salary, benefits, training, promotions etc. as part of their general business responsibilities, and this makes for a smooth transition to a full-time career in HR. Some of my most cherished, trusted and well versed HR colleagues have come out of "operations". What a great career segue for someone who wants to hone these skills!!

A new career for you?

So I leave you with these words of wisdom, HR is a great career! HR in the restaurant industry? What could be better! Don’t get me wrong, HR work provides a ton of challenges, but if you are in operations and want to focus on "people practices," consider HR as a possible future endeavor - you might just find a new career!


About Angie Buonpane

Angie has been the Director of Human Resources for the Union Square Hospitality for the past five years and previously worked in the not-for-profit, finance and insurance industries. In addition to her undergraduate degree in Law, she has completed HR Management Programs at both NYU and Cornell College of ILR.

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