The next milestone on the HR Standards Journey: Release of 1st National HR Audit Report


The next milestone on the HR Standards Journey: Release of 1st National HR Audit Report by Marius Meyer

Since the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) launched the first set of National HR Standards for South Africa and indeed the world in 2013, the HR Standard journey has progressed, not only within companies but also nationally and internationally.  The purpose of the National HR Standard was to reduce inconsistencies in HR practice, and to improve the overall quality of HR practice within companies and at a national level.  The National HR Standards have become an overnight success and already expanded to several African countries.  However, despite its rapid success, within the spirit of professional reflection the SABPP Standards team members were confronted with the following questions:

  • What will it help us to have national HR standards if these standards are not monitored, controlled and measured?
  • Is there a possibility that HR functions meet the standard if they do an internal self-assessment, but that the outcome could be different if external auditors would audit the HR function?
  • If we continue to lobby for HR professionals to achieve similar status to financial professionals in organisations, could we learn from the impact and success of financial audits?
  • If we know exactly what the shortcomings of the HR system within an organisation is, will that enable us to make significant improvements to HR functions over a relatively short period of time?
  • If consulting firms continue to audit HR functions according to their own criteria and methodologies and not according to the National HR Standard, are we perpetuating divergent and inconsistent approaches to HR standards?

The above questions resulted in a clear strategic decision to position HR audits against the National HR Standard as the solution to the problem.  Hence, on 28 August 2014, at the 2nd National HR Standards Roll-out we launched the SABPP Audit Unit to audit companies against the National HR Standard.  The HR Audit unit provides an independent centre of excellence for HR audits.  This is the first such national HR Audit unit in the world, and we are indeed proud of its establishment and early successes.

Since October 2014 a strong pool of 128 HR Auditors have been trained, and almost a third of them have already been involved in auditing companies against the National HR Standard.  Most of the audits were conducted in Gauteng, and also some in KZN, North-West and the Western Cape.

This year the SABPP Audit Unit had a busy time rolling out the National HR Standard and HR Audits.  To date eleven audits were completed and we are very pleased to report that there are 23 more companies lined up who are preparing themselves to be audited later this year or early next year.

During the HR Audits conducted, we have made some interesting discoveries about the state of HR in a typical South African organisation.  These lessons will be covered in the first Annual HR Audit Report to be released on 17 September 2015. In essence, with this new annual publication, the SABPP Audit team, under the leadership of its Head, Christine Botha are providing you with feedback about the successes and challenges of their work in auditing HR functions in South Africa.  In reflecting on and celebrating these milestones, SABPP will share this report annually during the month of September as a feedback mechanism to the HR market.

I want to thank the following stakeholders for their support, encouragement, inputs and leadership in assisting SABPP to ensure a successful first year of national HR audits in South Africa:

  • Christine Botha, Head of the SABPP Audit Unit for her sterling work in establishing, managing and building up the audit unit, including training the auditors and overseeing the audits;
  • Malebo Maholo, HR Audit Officer of SABPP for administering the work of the Audit Unit;
  • The SABPP Board for their excellent leadership in steering, strategising and resourcing the audit unit;
  • Dr Michael Robbins from International Management of Risk in the UK for his guidance and support during the pre-audit period;
  • Dr Penny Abbott, SABPP Head of Research for her pioneering work in training the first group of auditors and compiling the draft audit training files, including the first audit assessment tool;
  • The group of almost 500 HR leaders from all nine provinces for developing the HR standards, without the HR standards there would be no audits;
  • The first group of CEOs and HR executives for putting up your hands to be audited, you were not only brave, but true business and HR leaders in taking full responsibility for the quality of your HR systems and fully deserve your certification against the HR standard;
  • We are very proud of our pool of 128 HR auditors responsible for auditing companies, you are at the centre of the auditing process and world leaders as national HR auditors.
  • Alan Hosking of HR Future and Rudie Balie of Achiever Magazine for publishing the work of the SABPP Audit Unit.
  • A special word of thanks to the presidents and others leaders of HR bodies in other countries, in particular in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia for their continuous support in positioning the HR standards and audits as transformative interventions to improve HR in their countries.

Lastly, I want to encourage more HR executives to request HR audits. If you are hesitant or interested to be audited, please attend the 3rd Annual HR Standards Summit on 17 September at Sandton Convention Centre to learn about the first set of HR audits.  Now is the time to show confidence and leadership in raising the bar for the HR profession and the quality of HR practices. The HR standard was developed to improve HR functions, and by exposing yourself to HR Audits will provide confidence to executive committees and boards that HR’s house is in order.  I trust that this first annual report released at the 3rd Annual HR Standards Roll-out in Sandton will provide you with sufficient information to join the HR standards and audits journey.  Alternatively, we will gladly visit your company to present this report to your HR or Management Executive teams.

It was a privilege to work with so many HR professionals over the last year around the HR standards and audits.  In essence, all participants are authors of the first National HR Audit Report, because without you there would be nothing to report on.  For daily updates, please follow us on twitter @SABPP1. This National HR Standards and Audit Journey is an evolving process of elevating the HR profession, not only within companies, but also nationally, and in certain cases internationally.


Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. He will table the first Annual HR Audit Report at the 3rd Annual National HR Standards Roll-out on 17 September in Sandton.  You can download the programme and booking form from


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