4 Ways to Solve Disengagement Among Your Internal Auditors

Disengagement. It’s a problem that many companies don’t realize they have. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, only 13 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs. That means 87 percent of employees at the average company — your company, perhaps — have checked out. The problem is that these individuals can bring down morale, stifle innovation and lead an exodus of talent at a time when skilled professionals are increasingly hard to find.

The good news is that there is a solution. Robert Half recently hosted a webinar in conjunction with The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA), Show Them the Way: Using Employee Career Paths to Build, Improve and Retain Your Internal Audit Team, which examined how career planning and smarter staff management strategies can help organizations of all sizes re-engage their workforce.

Here are four key points discussed by the webinar speakers, Paul McDonald, senior executive director with Robert Half, and Larry Harrington, senior vice chairman of The IIA and vice president of internal audit at Raytheon Company.

1. Employment trends are making staff management more challenging.

Before enacting change within their organization, internal audit leaders must understand that external factors are at play. Current employment trends are working against you, making it more difficult to retain your most valued internal auditors and recruit new professionals.

The continued evolution of the regulatory environment is driving demand for internal audit professionals. You can see this reflected in the unemployment rate for accountants and auditors, which stood at just 2.8 percent in the second quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yet, at a time when good talent is needed most, many financial executives are struggling to recruit and retain these professionals. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. CFOs in a Robert Half survey said they are having trouble finding job candidates with the requisite skills. And, according to The IIA’s Pulse of the Profession report, more than half of senior managers believe that internal audit leaders are not doing a good job of sourcing and training talent.

2. Internal auditors want career planning support.

One key to solving the recruitment and retention challenge: Plan career paths for your employees. A Towers Watson report found that only 25 percent of organizations have defined career paths for managers and individual contributors. This is a big missed opportunity.

Helping your internal auditors plot their career paths shows you are invested in their success and leads directly to stronger levels of trust and greater feelings of loyalty to your firm.

A commitment to career planning can also help boost your organization’s reputation. Remember that when internal auditors are at networking events, conferences, or other professional or personal events, they serve as representatives for your organization. Your team’s enthusiasm for the firm — or lack thereof — will show. 

3. Careers can move in multiple directions.

The traditional notion of a career ladder is outdated. The simple truth is that not everyone wants to move up into a leadership role. As a result, savvy organizations have adopted the idea of a “career lattice” that allows internal auditors to move up, down and even sideways to pursue new positions — sometimes, even outside the internal audit department — and build new skills. Chief audit executives at these organizations also realize that some professionals want to dig into a certain niche or specialty to become subject matter experts.

When working on career plans with your internal auditors, explore alternate paths and explain how they can help your staff reach their short- and long-term career goals.

4. Millennials require a unique approach.

In today’s multigenerational workforce, organizational leaders must adapt their management style to the needs of each employee. Every generation is unique, and particular attention should be paid to your youngest internal auditors: the Millennials.

These professionals commonly desire greater responsibility in shorter timeframes than prior generations. They expect to advance quickly. They also want your time and attention. They seek instant, frequent feedback so they can understand where they’re excelling and where they can improve.

For internal audit leaders, this means they must invest more time in helping Millennial internal auditors understand the department’s goals and priorities, how they are performing, and where their careers are headed.

But don’t worry, the effort is well worth it. Millennials have a habit of seeing things differently and bringing new ideas to the table. Their input and insight can be invaluable.

These are just a few of the insights shared during the Show Them the Way webinar. Check out the replay to learn about other staff management strategies and ways of engaging your internal audit workforce.

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