My experience during three audits against the National HR Standards: Reflections and Lessons

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My experience during three audits against the National HR Standards: Reflections and Lessons
by Monamodi Matsapola

My involvement in the organisational HR Audit, firstly as shadow auditor and secondly as an auditor in two dynamic institutions, was an implausible exposure in the auditing environment. The approach was unique to the SABPP culture of professionalism and advisory without imposing attitude.

It was just marvellous to be part of the superb and resourceful team of professionals that were committed to walk the talk and fully apply the HR Audit methodology.   The experience of the audits revealed that the importance of the strategic positioning of HR in making a meaningful contribution towards organisational growth and development. It further confirmed the notion that repositioning of the HR function as a Strategic Business Partner is long overdue.

The once auditee was a perfect example of the strategic positioning of HR with the unwavering support of top management to add value and make a meaningful contribution to the auditee’s success and sustainability.

The reflections below depict the wealth of knowledge acquired as a participant in the HR Audit projects. These thoughts have been modelled around the lessons learnt at the auditees.

Guidelines Personal Experience Advice to future auditees
Solicit support and commitment from the Executive Committee. Preparations for the HR Audit are crucial. Create urgency, embark on the journey and sustain the momentum.
Initiate a project of aligning processes to the new business strategy. The training of the HR Team on the HR Standards is critical to the success of achieving and maintaining the standard. Solicit support and commitment from the Executive Committee as the sponsor from the beginning.
Align HR practices and processes to the SABPP Standards. Share the benefits of the HR Audit with the HR Team before the commencement of the audit. Prioritising those HR Standards that are critical to business success is key the success of this audit.
Train the HR team members on SABPP Standards Appoint champions and allocate responsibilities. Train HR team on the HR Standards and emphasise team work and integration.
Appoint champions to facilitate the processes. Establish awareness and partner with the departments to allow the involvement of employees in the participation of the HR Audit. Plan and prepare diligently for the audit to ensure that evidence collected is adequate and sufficient to meet the HR Standard.
Identify or appoint team leaders for the Standards. Employees must be prepared and invited in time for the audit interviews. Share successes of the audit to build credibility for HR.

Priorities areas requiring improvement.

Prepare for the HR Audit in a reasonable time period. Communicate the outcome of the audit with all the stakeholders: Exco, HR Team and employees. Maintain momentum until the end of the audit process.
Monitor and Evaluate the implementation of the SABPP HR Standards; In the same way discuss with these stakeholders how the organisation will derive value. Develop a full HR standards implementation plan.

Do a self-assessment against the HR standards.

Prepare a business case.

Hold regular meetings with the HR team to assess progress (if necessary involve Internal Audit). Sustain the momentum in the HR Audit process. Ensure continuous communication during HR standards alignment and the audit process.
Assess the readiness for the audit a month prior to the HR Audit to allow for amendments. Implement and embed the HR Standards in organisational delivery Model, Frameworks, Policies, Processes etc. Embed the HR standards fully in all HR practices and policies.

As a result of my involvement in three audits against the National HR Standards, I have gained valuable experience as an HR auditor, but also as an HR Professional committed to improving my own practice.  In the table above I outlined some of my major learning points.  I positioned these learning points as guidelines, personal experiences and advice to future auditees.  Given the value of HR audits as an objective and independent process in providing assurance for HR functions, I highly recommend HR audits for organisations.  I want to thank the SABPP Audit Unit, my co-auditors, my lead auditors and the auditees for affording me with the opportunity for being involved in the audit process.   Not only could I play a role in auditing the auditees, I have grown significantly as an auditor and HR professional.

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Monamodi Matsapola is an HR Auditor for SABPP. He is also Chairperson of SABPP in Gauteng.

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