HR pro Rebecca Short on moving from managing volunteers to employees

She’s an HR generalist at 88 Acres.
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Rebecca Short

· 4 min read

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Rebecca Short is wary of the “bring your whole self to work” movement. What if workers don’t want to be vulnerable at work? At 88 Acres, she has been trying to create space and opportunities for those who want to share, without pressuring those who don’t.

Short came to HR from volunteer management in the nonprofit sector, channeling her skills and experiences recruiting, onboarding, training, retaining, and managing volunteers at Habitat for Humanity into usable HR skills at the healthy snack bars and seed butter manufacturer. As its first HR generalist, her work at 88 Acres has been a “stretching opportunity” to learn more about HR and create changes and improvements to the company’s people policies. She also refers back to “not a particularly positive experience with HR at a previous job” and endeavors to do things differently now that she’s got the opportunity. “I want to be that person that hopefully handles things the right way, and can turn the way that people think about HR,” she told HR Brew.

What’s the best change you’ve made at a place you’ve worked?

As 88 Acres moved to a new facility in another town, we were faced with the challenge of how to get our employees who don’t have vehicles to our new space. I investigated a lot of different options, but ultimately landed on the company subsidizing and facilitating a vanpool. Employees now have the freedom and control of getting to work through the vanpool, and they now also have access to the van on the weekends to use for personal needs. This allowed us to keep most of our workforce when we moved, and gave our team the freedom that comes with having access to a vehicle.

What’s the biggest misconception people might have about your job?

Some people are stuck in an old-fashioned mindset that HR is just there for discipline, benefits, and payroll. In reality, HR professionals are trained, and equipped with so many resources to help employees professionally and personally.

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What’s the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

I love providing professional development to our team. We hold monthly professional development sessions that all team members can participate in. These have ranged from having difficult conversations, all the way to tough conversations around burnout. Creating these trainings and engaging with team members during the training is really energizing to me. I also love to see people implement what they learn in their everyday work.

What trend in HR are you most optimistic about? Why?

I am most optimistic about hybrid work schedules. At 88 Acres, we have a hybrid model and implement "common sense flexibility". We ask team members to come into the office when they are having collaborative meetings because that face-to-face interaction to collaborate is so important, and fun! But we recognize that there are times people might be having an off day, or have a midday doctor's appointment. Staying home those days to crank out some work, or not add to a commute just makes sense. I hope more workplaces will add this flexibility and work with their teams to do what works for them instead of applying a blanket policy to everyone.

What trend in HR are you least optimistic about? Why?

Bringing your whole self to work. While I think this is great when some people want to do this, not everyone does. For some people, compartmentalizing works to reduce their stress, maintain their boundaries, and be a better worker and part of their family. Instead of saying “bring your whole self to work” and forcing people to open up, we should just be creating the space for those that need it, and gently reminding people that it is a safe space. I think we need to be sure we are respecting people’s boundaries and labeling people who might not want to be vulnerable at work.

Tell us one new or old HR tech product or platform that’s made your life easier, and why.

JobTarget has been great for passive recruitment! As an HR team of one, anything automated is the best!

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.