JCW Group | Blog

In it for the long-term: creating a retentive culture

Daniel Evans

This serious problem must be solved very quickly

Why is retention important to organizations? As part of our recent whitepaper: Achieving High Performance in Audit, we conducted research and a hosted a live expert panel to find out. The answers were intriguing; It creates continuity of knowledge and skills: the more continuity you have, the more successful the IA function will be. Additionally, if you develop and retain your teams, you will spend less time and money on recruitment and training – allowing you to focus on doing the work.

The key to retention is a good culture. Good culture comes from good leadership, both within the audit function and across the organization. A good IA leader is:

  1. Someone who shares a vision of what the function is all about – this goes beyond the traditional audit statements and charters. Good leaders tell their teams what is different about working with them. They inspire their people to come to work every day and they motivate teams to get excited about the next project.
  2. Someone who inspires respect across the organization – IA shouldn’t stand on its own as a silo function. So a good IA leader is connected to different parts of the organization. They build relationships and Influence across functions. This means they can get in front of the right people for a tough conversation, or to challenge where needed. With that established credibility, they inspire confidence in their teams and throughout the organization, and IA becomes a team that people want to be part of.
  3. A good communicator – this is particularly important in remote work environment. Good leaders know how to fill in gaps where standard office interactions would be. Sharing information more regularly and initiating 1-2-1 meetings so that people feel a personal connection helps to build a sense of engagement and involvement across the team – people then feel they belong to the group and are part of a wider effort.

Leadership that influences culture and team retention also embraces wider issues:

Positioning the audit function within organization. IA needs to have a seat at the table, including on governance committees, and having access to senior management. An IA leader needs to demonstrate that the function is able to make a difference and has influence. Then you can clearly demonstrate to staff that IA can make a difference and get things done.

Advancement, by offering training and career opportunities. After hiring someone with the requisite skills and abilities, make sure they can develop these and learn new skills within the audit function. Build internal career paths so you are retaining institutional knowledge and skills, even if people move out of the IA team. People who are keen to stay as auditors will feel comfortable in the team and those who have other career intents can move on within the organization when they are ready. There’s no problem with audit being regarded as a feeder for your organization.

Focus on recognition. It’s really important to maintain recognition. Appreciation goes a long way to making your team feel that their contributions are valued. Make sure you don’t wait too long to give your recognition – six months after the event is too long.

As part of the Achieving High Performance in Audit whitepaper we conducted a research survey to discover what Audit professionals considered the most important factors in their decision to stay at a company. For existing staff, compensation is still the most important factor in sticking with an IA role, according to our polling. It’s important to note, however, that advancement opportunities and organizational culture play a significant role in retaining staff. Statistics are similar for candidates looking for new roles, but advancement opportunities and culture is more important at this stage, alongside flexible work arrangements – now often seen as a key must-have for new roles.

All of these ideas will help to create a retention culture within your business. However if you’re still expanding your team and would like to find out more about which of our varied service models would suit your hiring needs, find out more on our services page – we have service models tailored to suit any hiring requirements, no mater the size or scope.

Co-author: Chee Chong, Head of Internal Audit, TP ICAP

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