A Quick, 3-Step Survival Guide to Audits

A Quick 3-Step Survival Guide to Audits

Are you a Human Resources or Finance professional who is about to be audited for any number of workplace policies?  Coming from the recruitment world into an HR role, I am amazed (read: terrified) at how many audits are happening, at any given time.  Right now, I am in the midst of four separate audits: a 401(k)/Retirement plan audit, an ISO audit, and two Worker’s compensation audits.  And as luck would have it, the HR Analyst on my team who handles audits is about to go on maternity leave for the summer, so I am learning the ropes as fast as possible before she heads out.  “Trial-by-fire” I believe they call it.

Who doesn’t shudder when they hear the word “audit”?  I know it gives me the proverbial willies, but really, is it all that scary?  I’ve been through several ISO audits previously, but this year I am in charge of the ISO audit, which is a big responsibility, and truth be told, I’m a little nervous about it.  So how am I going about preparing for this audit?  Here’s my three-step guide to successfully navigating the next daunting audit at your organization.

Step 1:  Don’t Panic.

Easier said than done, right?  Take a big old deep breath and relax.  Auditors are people too, just like you and me.  Yes, they hold a certain power which somehow always finds the worst mistakes and can land you in some hot water.  But chances are, if you’ve been doing your job well, and your teammates have too, the audit results shouldn’t be all that scathing.  So stop panicking, and focus on the task at hand.

Step 2: Don’t Procrastinate.

You’ve known the audit has been coming for months, and yet, somehow you’ve managed to avoid catching up on all the audit prep work that you should have been doing all year long.  So if you can’t commit to prep work months ahead, then give yourself at least a few weeks to start getting ready for the audit.  If you can build in at least a few weeks of prep time, you’ll thank yourself the day before the audit, when you’re not at the office until midnight scrambling around, stressed out of your mind.

Step 3: Accept the Results & Move On.

At some point, you have to wave the white flag and surrender.  The auditor has won, beating you at literally your own game.  They found the mistakes.  Maybe some were your errors; maybe some were made by coworkers.  Either way, at this point, it doesn’t matter.  The damage is done and your boss now knows you might have slacked a bit.  Accept the fact that errors happen (why else would audits happen in the first place?!).  To err is human, so figure out where you went wrong, and find ways to improve yourself and your work habits for next year.  The audit is over, and you can now breathe a sigh of relief.

See how easy that was?  Attack that audit head-on and use the findings to create better efficiencies and processes at your organization.  Simple!

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