Meet Lauren Winans, CEO and Principal HR Consultant for Next Level Benefits

Lauren Winans
July 19, 2021

This article is part of our new State of Employee Feedback Series which will interview a diverse mix of HR experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding their perspectives on the current state of and future of HR.

The following is an interview we recently had with Lauren Winans, CEO and Principal HR Consultant for Next Level Benefits.

What is the state of human resources today?

With greater emphasis on the employee experience, enhancing workplace culture, and increasing employee engagement, many HR teams are faced with overcoming their past reputation as overly administrative and bureaucratic. They support businesses in new, more strategic ways as opposed to being reactive and comprised of processes and rigidity.  While much of the same rules, processes, and compliance must still be managed, a new people-centric HR team can lead with strategic engagement efforts and be primarily known for the value they bring to an organization while still handling the back-office administrative tasks behind the scenes.

What are the most common challenges you face when managing employee feedback and reporting?

The most common challenge is how to use employee feedback to create change. Change is uncomfortable and disruptive, but necessary. Asking for feedback is a great way to identify areas of the employee experience in need of retooling. What is done with that feedback and how it is interpreted to affect change is often hard for HR teams and leaders to execute. This is something we help our clients with day in and day out. When employees take the time to share their feedback, an employer should take the time to consider if there is a better way of doing things.

What are 3-5 pieces of advice for organizations looking to improve their employee feedback culture?

Communicate with transparency and communicate often. Train and actively encourage leaders to seek out employee feedback.  Have a process for documenting and reviewing feedback with decision-makers who can affect change. Recognize employees with great ideas that make an impact on the organization.

What's the future of HR?

HR will continue to evolve as a trusted, strategic business partner with a seat at the table for critical company decisions. I suspect more HR teams will rebrand themselves as they progress through this evolution, using more forward-thinking terms like “People Operations”, “People and Culture Team”, or “Employee Resource Center”.  HR, no matter what they are called, will continue to be focused on enhancing the employee experience while making a direct impact on business results through attracting, developing, and retaining talent.

How do you see your role evolving over the next 3-5 years?

I expect our projects with our clients – HR leaders, their teams, and business owners – to evolve to be even more strategic.  And that gives me the opportunity to continue to evolve and enhance my own skillset, learning along with our clients as we navigate new problems and solutions. As I evolve and my company evolves, one thing will not change - our goal will continue to be to help make more best places to work.

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