In today’s interview with Adam Torres on Mission Matters Business Podcast, Lauren Winans, the CEO of Next Level Benefits, talks about how large and small organizations can attract, recruit and retain top-notch talent through employee benefits and more.
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Lauren Winans is the CEO and principal HR Consultant for Next Level Benefits, an HR consulting practice that provides access to HR professionals on a short-term or long-term basis or for help with HR projects. With 20 years of expertise in human resources and employee benefits, her knowledge of HR best practices runs deep.
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What is the mission of Next Level Benefits?
“Whenever I’m working with a client, my goal is to help them create a better place to work,” Lauren Winans says. “This is why I started Next Level Benefits. Sharing our HR expertise with teams and companies that need guidance or extra hands is something I always wished I had access to when I was in corporate HR roles.”
Next Level Benefits’ job is to jump into HR projects, fill in for absent team members, and perform assessments on various aspects of the employee value proposition. The practice helps employers to create an employee experience with an emphasis on support, empowerment, rewards, and recognition.
After spending 20 years in corporate HR roles, Lauren decided to start her own HR consulting firm. Her expertise has helped small and large companies build strong relationships with their employees. “We are focused on supporting employers – business owners and HR teams alike – in all HR disciplines. We can step in quickly, and serve whatever role is necessary – consultant, strategist, project manager, or interim leader.
What kind of organization should focus on HR strategies?
No matter its size, every organization should have an HR team, Lauren says. “This can come in the form of an inhouse team or an outsourced group of experts, but either way, a people plan is necessary. Every size company should have some level of a strategic roadmap that they should follow, complete with an annual review process that allows them to stick to their strategy.” If organizations use a sound strategy as their foundation, she explains, it will eliminate the need for random and reactive decision-making.
“Many of our clients are focused on flexible working arrangements and how that has and will impact their business. Workforce planning is a priority right now.” Many employers now offer a hybrid environment with multiple types of working arrangements, including remote work. This has opened doors to people who can now approach organizations all over the world, and it opens doors for employers as well; they can now attract talent from near and far to join their team.
Why should employers be focused on employee benefits?
Employee benefits, in combination with compensation, can help attract talent to an organization and then retain it. Employees desire benefits that help them to support their health and wealth. With a finite amount of talent out there, employers must be focused on attracting the most talented individuals to their organization. The best way to do that is to offer a compelling total rewards package – competitive compensation along with comprehensive benefits.
Labor issues have always been a high priority for most organizations, but recently, budgets are tighter than ever. Employers want to compensate and reward their employees for their hard work and dedication, but there are budget constraints to work within. So, in a way, the balance of compensation and benefits is both a science and an art.
What makes Next Level Benefits unique?
Next Level Benefits is not just a team of consultants, they are HR professionals. “We are a team of HR experts who have gained expertise and knowledge after working for years in big organizations like IBM, Netflix, United Airlines, (and) eBay. Every one of us has 20 years of experience from a variety of corporate HR roles,” Lauren says. “So, there’s no need to “onboard” us; we only need a few details on what you want to achieve, which is enough for us to know what needs to be done. Some of our large clients just give us a laptop and tell us to get to work, while some clients help us understand (with more specificity) what we should work on.”
The gig economy’s effect on the workplace
Lauren says organizations are hiring more contractors and freelancers than ever in various fields, ranging from HR, finance and legal to marketing and IT firms. By hiring freelancers and contractors, employers often save money because they can avoid paying the benefits, bonuses, taxes, and training costs that come along with a traditional employee headcount. “Employers have realized that bringing in external expertise is how they can get a leg up on their competition, and in most cases, it pays dividends to bring in specialized support when you need it most.”
The road ahead for Next Level Benefits
When asked about future plans, Lauren says Next Level Benefits is focused on helping clients to redesign their workforces, create efficiencies, and enhance total rewards packages, all contributing to more “best places to work”. To learn more about Lauren and her team, visit nlbenefits.com for details about services offerings and past projects. You can also schedule a call or email Lauren through the website.