Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Friday, November 14, 2008

Auditing the Human Resources Function

Effectiveness of the Human Resources Function

The purpose of a Human Resources audit is to assess the effectiveness of the Human Resources function and to ensure regulatory compliance. The audit can be conducted by anyone with sufficient Human Resources experience. Having experience working in more than one company is a plus, as it provides the auditor with a broader perspective. There's an advantage to having the audit conducted by an external consultant. Because the external consultant has fewer biases about the organization and has less personal interest in the outcome than an employee of the company, the external consultant may be more objective.

Collect Data

Assess the mission, vision, strategy, and culture of the organization, from whatever written material there is in the company (check with the department or person who handles public, customer, or shareholder relations). Collect existing data such as:
1. Hiring statistics (acceptance rate, hiring rate, hiring projections)
2. Turnover
3. Compensation and benefits philosophy and practice
4. Exit interview summaries
5. Employee complaints (discrimination, harassment, safety, other)
6. Promotion and advancement practices and trends
7. Human Resources budget and expenditures

Where possible, compare the data you collected with market data. This information will provide you with a point of view for the next phase of the audit: the interviews. If, during the interview, discrepancies arise between the data and the interviewee's answer, you can explore the reasons for the discrepancy(s).

Conduct Interviews

The purpose of the interview is to collect input from the internal customer on their Human Resources needs and how those needs are being met. Begin the interview with top management. Next conduct interviews with a sample of subordinate managers including first line management. The topics to discuss during the interview include:

  1. Perceptions of the company and its goals
  2. Strengths and weaknesses of top management
  3. Employee perceptions of the company and top management
  4. Relations with subordinates
  5. Support of career goals for self and employees
  6. Major Human Resources issues
  7. Which Human Resources functions work well
  8. Which Human Resources functions need improvement

Conduct the Regulatory Compliance Audit

The following areas should be audited as part of the regulatory compliance audit:

  1. Personnel files and recordkeeping (contain only job related information)
  2. Pay equity
  3. Job descriptions (ADA compliance)
  4. Legal postings
  5. Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action
  6. Forms (applications, internal forms, etc.)
  7. Workers' Compensation
  8. Fair Labor Standards Act
  9. Family and Medical Leave Act
  10. Legal reporting

Summarize the Results

Consolidate the information you collected. Compare the results with market surveys. Determine which practices are good/popular/effective/competitive. Determine which practices need improvement. Recommend specific improvements referring to the results of both the Effectiveness audit and the Regulatory compliance audit. Justify the recommendations. Determine how to measure whether the improvements are successful.

Obtain Approval from senior Management

Present the preliminary results and recommendations to senior management individually. Point out how these recommendations will support their needs. Obtain their support, then present the final results and recommendations to the senior management staff for final approval.

Implement the Program

Consider implementing the program in part of the organization as a pilot program. Monitor and measure success and seek to continuously improve processes. Be prepared to modify the program if an organizational change requires it.

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