My first year as an HR Auditor: Reflections and Lessons

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My first year as an HR Auditor: Reflections and Lessons
by Karin Nji

I was highly humbled and privileged to be part of an audit team consisting of two auditors, one Lead Auditor and two shadow Auditors for an audit that took place in the last quarter of 2015. I was assigned to audit four Human Resource (HR) standards namely: Workforce planning, Performance Management, Employment Relations Management and Organisation

Development. These are the HR functional areas that I am passionate about. After much preparation in crafting the audit questions that are in line with the various standard objectives, and equally researching on the auditee’s background, I confidently arrived at the auditee’s premises ready to audit their HR practices.

My experience of the audit process:

Under the watchful eye of the Lead Auditor, we set out to conduct the audit. Time was of the essence as we had to complete the audit in one day. The day started with a pre-briefing meeting with the auditee’s executives and HR team to share the audit process. Everything was well organised in terms of what needed to done at what time, with whom and where. It was an incredible experience to conduct the interviews and assess the HR practices in terms of the quality of approach, extent of application and quality of results in performing the HR function. The scoring and assessment of the evidence was done in accordance with the HR standards.   As an auditor, I was able to multi-skill, be confident, knowledgeable, open minded, listen carefully, think on my feet and not narrow myself only to the prepared questions but to probe further depending on the responses. In the auditing process it was necessary to be observant, maintain eye contact and take notes during the interviews. Furthermore, interviews with selected employees were conducted to assess the employees experience of HR practices.  Finally, a close-out meeting was held with the auditee to report on the audit process and the achievement of the audit objectives.  Overall, the audit was equally a learning experience for me.

Lessons learnt:

Reflecting on the audits I have been involved in, I have learnt the following lessons:

  • Having strategies, policies, procedures, processes and resources in place but not implementing accordingly puts the auditee at risk.
  • The 13 standards are interrelated and therefore evidence was shared between the auditors so that the evidence is integrated and analysed against the HR Standards.
  • Collaboration between the auditors is critical in arriving at a common conclusion.
  • Being focused and decisive help tremendously in time management.
  • Not only knowledge of the HR standards, but the auditor’s knowledge of HR practices and experiences assist with the HR Audit process.

Advice to auditees preparing for audit/considering taking an audit:

People are the most important resource for a company. They fuel the company’s engine to work but this greatly depends on the company’s HR practices. It is the right decision to undertake an audit which will enable the auditee to know the status of their HR practices. Based on this knowledge of HR Standards, the HR practices will be maintained and sustained so that the HR System remains relevant.   The really value of HR audits is as follows:  An HR Audit is the only way to objectively measure the quality of HR Practices from an external and independent perspective based on clearly defined national standards.

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Karin Nji is an HR Auditor for SABPP.

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