The competencies and credibility of HR Auditors


The competencies and credibility of HR Auditors
by Christine Botha

When SABPP launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit companies against the National HR Standards, one area was non-negotiable – the credibility and competency of the HR Auditors.  While HR as a profession has a long way to go to reach the level of status and credibility achieved by other professions such as accountancy, the need to step up and build high quality auditing processes and practices was identified as a top priority for SABPP. The auditors are required to provide a high level of professionalism.   Thus, training the auditors was a key step in this regard.  A total of 126 HR Auditors were trained by SABPP in 2014 and 2015.

The competencies listed below are critical for any HR Professional wishing to become and HR Auditor or Lead Auditor.  It goes without saying that, as HR Auditors, we are doing a peer-review of other HR Professionals’ Human Resource Management Systems, and this requires not only skill, experience and a strong HR background, but sensitivity towards and compassion for those whose work is being audited.

Exceptional English Report Writing skills are required as HR Audit reports are submitted to the Executive Management, Boards and sometimes even Shareholders of the organisations audited.  Likewise, a range of other competencies are key in becoming a successful auditor.


The diagram below depicts the HR Auditor/Lead Auditor Certification process.  It is a very stringent process, often quite overwhelming for delegates despite their extensive experience.  Knowledge of the HRMS Standard is of critical importance as this aspect cannot and will not be revisited during the training due to time limitations.  Prospective HR Auditors must prepare extensively for the training, which includes pre-reading material and studying the Standard.  At the start of the training, directly after the one-hour closed book exam, delegates are also required to deliver a presentation on any one of the 13 Standards.  Their presentations are then critiqued by the other delegates present and the quality, content, delivery and impact of their presentations rated on a 10-point scale.

Delegates also gain practical experience in applying the HR Audit methodology and techniques during role plays which are observed by the presenters.  After completing of the training, another open book exam must be submitted within two weeks of the training.

All HR Auditors must complete at least one audit successfully prior to Certification.  Lead Auditors can only be considered for such a role once they have been certified as an HR Auditor.  Their Lead Audit performance during their first audit is evaluated by the Head of the HR Audit Unit.

Also, after each completed HR Audit, the HR Audit team members have to conduct evaluations on one another’s performance during the audit.


HR Auditors are expected to attend at least one compulsory CPD intervention per annum. It is critical that the HR Auditors are not only high level HR professionals, they also need to keep up to date with the principles, methodologies and practices of auditing.

Payment rates for HR Auditors and HR Lead Auditors will be made available during the training and may be reviewed or renegotiated from time to time based on the clients’ requirements.  Interestingly, many HR Managers have now also become HR Auditors.  The auditors could immediately see the benefit of improving HR at their own organisations after they have audited other companies.  In essence, HR auditors need to have the right competencies in order to obtain the level of credibility one would expect from an auditor.


Christine Botha is Head of the SABPP HR Audit Unit.  You can contact her on and read more articles on HR Auditing at the SABPP blog

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