Questions An Internal HR Audit Should Ask

There are many important reasons for conducting an HR audit on a regular basis. According to SHRM, the main reasons for an audit are to assess whether or not a company's practices are "adequate, legal, and effective". Without a proper audit, what was once considered best-practice might not only become old-practice, but it may even lead to dangerous-practices that could get your company into hot water.

It's clear that a regularly scheduled audit is in everyone's best interest, but that is much easier said than done. Where do you even begin? What should you focus on? Do you conduct partial audits throughout the entire year or a full audit once a year? Below, we discuss essential questions you definitely want to address when conducting an internal HR audit. The goal is for you to have a better grasp on the overall process and implementation of the task ahead.

First Steps of an HR Audit 

So you've made the decision to conduct an internal Human Resource audit. The team is in place and you are ready to begin. Which areas should you look at first? The below list is meant to serve as a primer for any HR generalist looking for direction with an audit. For a more full-scope guide on exactly what an HR audit entails, head over to our comprehensive HR audit guide for all the details. 

Labor & Employment HR Audit

Comprehensive HR Audit Guide

Questions You Should Ask:

- Do you have all the required postings present and visible?
- Does your company follow all appropriate I-9 requirements, including proper recording?
- Do employment applications contain any questions that are illegal? Are they properly maintained?
- Is the employee handbook current and legal? Do employees have a copy? Have they signed documentation showing that they have obtained a copy?
- Are any files stored in the managers' desk files (rather than properly placed in records file)?
- Are all OSHA logs are up to date, completed, and available to employees?
- Do you have an electronic communication policy (this includes email, social media, etc.)?
- Do you have a policy for company-issued cell phones (how often can they talk, can they text/ send pictures, for personal use or just business, etc.)?
- Do you have a legally sufficient anti-harassment policy? Does it include a strong anti-retaliation policy?
- Do you have a grievance or complaint procedure in place that employees are aware of and feel like they can use?
- Is the at-will language in your handbook legal?
- Is the paid time off policy clear?
- Do you have a satisfactory equal opportunity employment policy? Is it noted on job postings?
- Are FMLA policies and procedures up to date?
- Do you have substance abuse policies in place?
- Are employees aware of safety or accident reporting policies?
- Are ERISA and COBRA requirements met and followed through on?
- Are ADA policies up to date and followed?
- Does the company comply with all FLSA regulations? See this article for more information on wage and hour requirements under FLSA.
- What are your recruiting procedures that you have in place? Are you looking for the right candidate? Do you have an effective (and legal) application? Do you conduct a background check (criminal check plus work history/ references)? Who handles the interviews?
- Do you have a proper onboarding practice for new employees?
- Do you have a formal performance evaluation procedure? What about a disciplinary policy procedure? Is it followed consistently?
- Are you properly retaining all records for the appropriate time as required by law?

Next Steps For Your Audit

Of course, aside from the list of questions above, your company will also have specific and unique needs. Be sure to identify those needs and ensure you take proper action to address them. After laying the groundwork to begin your audit, you are prepared and ready to set things in motion.

Depending on the size of your company, it may take several weeks or even months to complete an audit. Start small and set achievable goals to complete certain areas of interest at a time. Remember that you are dealing with legal implications here, so it is in everyone's best interest to take your time, be thorough, and make sure you do the job correctly. 

Let Us Know Your Audit Must-Haves 

Let us know what questions or topics you address within your own company's auditing process. Did we miss anything? Together we can make a difficult job much more achievable.

About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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