Administrative Offices Interviews

Interview w/ Lindsey Gaylord, Senior HR Specialist at our Administrative Offices

Name: Lindsey Gaylord
Position: Senior HR Generalist
Campus: Administrative Offices (AO)
Time in Current Position: 6 months
Previous Positions: HR generalist, Benefits Specialist
Years with Hillcrest: 5 years

Do you remember how you learned about Hillcrest?

I actually started as a temp. Before I was at Hillcrest, I was working in a super small non-profit in South County and we provided equine-assisted psychotherapy to clients. Some were kids, some were adults. And I did a little bit of everything there. It was really just me and the executive director. I ended up leaving because I wanted something a little more stable. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do some sort of office work, but far as what type of department, what I’d be to be interested in, I really didn’t know. I ended up going through Molari and was placed here sitting at the front desk. 

That was over the summer of 2017, when the HR department was down two positions. [Having a temp at the front desk] allowed Colleen to come back and work on recruitment. We didn’t have a recruiter and we didn’t have a benefits specialist. So I was sitting out front providing reception for the building. And then I got involved [in other tasks.] That was when Indeed (hiring platform) kind of exploded. So we started using Indeed. We didn’t have a great way of tracking applicants, so I created an Excel sheet where we would track everyone. We actually still use it! 

So I got a little bit more involved and then I really fell in love with Hillcrest because of the teamwork within the department. It was really, really busy. It was also my first exposure to this type of environment. And so to see everybody working together, fully understanding that they were two positions down, and everyone was smiling. Everyone was still really pleasant to one another. Everyone was still working well together, and not saying, “Well this is your job,” or “This is my job.” So that is what sold me on Hillcrest. So then I applied for the benefits position and I ended up getting that.

So you didn’t necessarily have an HR background? 

No. The closest thing that I had to an HR background coming here was managing volunteers at the nonprofit. I did some fundraising and some administrative work there, but I really did not have any formal HR experience.

Can you explain a little about what you do as a senior HR generalist?

So I manage the day-to-day responsibilities of the HR department, from providing reception at AO, to workers’ comp claims, to [approving] anybody out on a leave of absence, to our benefits administration, to recruitment. All of that [falls under my umbrella] and then I’m also responsible for background record checking compliance, making sure that we’re constantly working towards compliance with that.

What are the happiest moments for you while working for Hillcrest?

 I don’t know if it’s the happiest, but the most rewarding moment I’ve had. I was supporting a staff member who was out of work for a really long time. He was in the hospital. It was actually touch and go for a period of time, and I had maintained contact with his spouse. Checking in, seeing how he was doing, asking if there was anything we could do to help support their family. And I was on the phone with his spouse as she was going to the hospital to pick him up and he was being discharged. This makes me tear up. As he’s coming out, he realized that I was on the phone with her…

What are the hardest parts of your job? 

I definitely say the hardest parts of the job are the unpleasantries that come with overall employee performance. Having to manage that, having to look at different disciplinary documents. Those sorts of things are the most unpleasant pieces of the position. 

I’d say a challenge of the job and the department is making our employees feel like we in HR aren’t the bad guys. It’s not necessarily a negative reason why employees would need to reach out to HR, or why we’re reaching out. If we’re calling an employee, it’s not necessarily for anything negative. We’re here to support everyone. We are here for a lot of positive things.

I love talking to staff after they realize that they’re pregnant, or their partner’s pregnant, and they’re looking at family leave. You know, having those kinds of conversations. Or they’re interested in going back to school and talking to them about their career path. Those types of things are definitely the best part. The hardest parts of the job are definitely dealing with performance issues.

What surprised you about your job in HR?

I would say what surprised me was when I realized how aware executives are of the day-to-day stuff that goes on on campus, and of our employees and their lives. What challenges they might be facing, [their new] promotion, or what they’re interested in. Oftentimes, Chris or Shaun will come down here and talk to me about a staff that is doing something really great, or might need some support. And it’s just always surprised me how involved they are, and how much they really do care about everybody that works here. I feel like it’s very unique to Hillcrest. 

Who would you say is the most influential person in your work life right now?

That one’s definitely really hard. I can’t pin down one person. I think it’s because…my role is managing the day-to-day stuff, but it’s also being a liaison with the campuses and always trying to find a win-win situation for both the organization and the staff. And obviously, the campus administration plays a big role in that. So I would say that developing relationships with the campus administration so that we can have conversations about things that are going on, work through issues, and find the best solutions. I’ve really been working hard on developing those relationships and I’d say I’ve learned a lot from all those people.

Do you have any advice for new employees?

I would definitely say for new employees, regardless of their position, there are two things. 

One is if you don’t know, ask. Especially as staff working on the campuses, you’re thrown a lot of information in a really short period. And sometimes you’re working alongside people that have worked here for 10, 15 years, who really can do this work without having to think about it. They know the campuses inside and out. And so I think that sometimes new staff feel like they should just know it all and that’s not the expectation. So if you don’t know something, if you’re not sure, if something doesn’t look right, if you’re not sure what you should do in a certain situation, then definitely ask. 

And the second thing, if they’re going through something, if there are some challenges they have going on outside of work, if there’s something that they’re really struggling with inside work, Hillcrest is such a supportive employer. And a lot of the time we don’t find out about something until it’s too late. But if we knew that somebody was dealing with a challenge, a lot of things could be put in place to help them. [Reach out for help.]

What kind of person do you think succeeds working at Hillcrest at either direct care or maybe at AO or both?

I mean, you’ve got to be in it for the kids. We have increased our entry-level rate pretty significantly. So I think it’s easy to say that we just need people who want to work, but that’s not really the type of staff that thrive at our campuses and provide the best services for our kids. They really need to buy into what we do and really want to come in for the kids. 

If I had to think of one characteristic that best describes successful Hillcrest staff, it’s integrity. Whether you’re working with the kids or in the administrative offices, there’s a lot of responsibility. We are a non-profit, and we’re always running into new things and trying to figure them out for the first time. And having integrity in what you do is probably one of the most important things.

Do you have any favorite stories?

Kind of a funny story. We were researching different benefits for staff and were looking at the childcare reimbursement benefit. This was back when it wasn’t in place yet. We were just dipping our toes into figuring out whether or not it would be beneficial for staff. We did a survey. We were trying to figure out what we could do budgetarily. 

And so Jerry, who was the CEO at the time, had charged me with bringing a proposal to him. I was seven or eight months pregnant with my first child. And I’ll never forget, I was walking up the stairs to his office and I had the proposal. He just looks at me and says, “Well, how can I say no to you?” It was just a really great example of how we really do try to support our staff in the best way possible, but we are human beings too that bring our own personal experiences to the table. You know, I was pregnant and I have kids and there’s plenty of staff on our campuses that have gone through the same thing. We’re really trying to make sure that we can best support them. 


*******This interview has been lightly edited and condensed*******

We’re looking for dynamic, compassionate people to join our team! Check out our career openings. We’re waiting to hear from you. 

Don’t forget to read all about our Staff Wellness & Engagement Committee’s work!

1 comment on “Interview w/ Lindsey Gaylord, Senior HR Specialist at our Administrative Offices

  1. Amafu Rexford Doh

    This is heartwarming, soothing and admirable experience shared by the indefatigable HR.
    My spirit is lifted up once more to serve humanity with all my strength, knowledge and experience. Hillcrest must be earning more laurels as a result of it’s strong human resource base.
    The collaboration among the staff endear so much to me.
    I hope to be granted the opportunity to contribute what is under my sleeves to the success story of Hillcrest.
    More grease to the elbows of leadership and the entire team.


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