Over the last couple of weeks we have been asking our global audience of Internal Audit leaders and team members, “Do you feel Internal Audit is currently valued within your organisation?”
We have over 200 contributors from various industries, and markets, and the answer is… 60% say yes, 40% say no. We have deliberately kept this un-targeted so that we didn’t bias the results. Respondents have self selected to respond so are more likely to feel strongly one way or another.
We deliberately kept this to one simple question to maximise the response in a busy and challenging time for everyone. There will be follow up surveys to seek to understand what has driven this result, however I wanted to provide some initial ideas as to what might be at play here.
I will assume that most people answered the question literally and not as to whether or not they felt personally valued. Therefore I’ll leave out all the factors that can effect whether an individual feels valued in work (critically important though these are, they are for another article.).
So what are we seeing that might explain this response?
I think that the current situation, as with all crises, magnifies whatever the status quo already was. On one hand there remain, unfortunately, organisations who treat Internal Audit as a regulatory or shareholder necessity, a box to be ticked. In these cases budgets will be quick to be cut and those teams will often feel even less listened to and more isolated than normal. However other organisations, hopefully the majority, do see IA as a value add partner, a team which can help to assist the organisation through the immediate crisis and the choppy waters ahead. This does not make them immune to budget cuts by any means, but if you feel part of the solution rather than part of the problem you will feel valued,
I suspect that most of those who responded will fall into one of those two camps. In which case I would suggest that this is, relatively speaking, a good news story. We are still in the midst of a huge social and economic global crisis and yet 60% of our respondents felt Internal Audit was valued. If that means 60% are being listened too then hopefully many organisations will be better able to weather the risks ahead as we progress through the recovery,
I did say I would skip the reasons as to why individuals may not feel valued, however I will mention one, and that is communication. Communication is at the heart of how any organisation functions; timely, transparent communication that gives real clarity as to what is happening, what actions are being taken and what is likely to happen next is critical. Get this wrong in a crisis and whether you value a team, or a person, or not, they certainly won’t feel like it.
My final point is that we have noticed something very unusual in the current crisis. Normally, in times of economic hardship, most people stick with the job they have unless forced to leave. They are motivated by security; job progression and higher pay can wait. Interestingly that dynamic is not as strong at the moment. If anything we are seeing a greater drive to move roles, and this has been picked up by other commentators and organisations. It may take some years to look back and explain this phenomenon, but I think it is down to two points:
1) Poor communication and decision making (although often understandable) during such incredibly fast moving and historically damaging events.
2) A lock down period during which people had time to step back and review their current situation. These times of reflection, holiday seasons see the same effect, always lead to a flow of people wanting to move on.
Therefore those organisations with teams who do not feel valued may well find that the need for security is not a big enough motivator to stay, and they may in fact lose people they would have otherwise expected to keep. This crisis has changed patterns of behaviour in unexpected ways and it will be very interesting to see how the next year or two evolves.
We will run further surveys to dig into the details of why people feel valued or not, and the results will be published in the months ahead. You can then re-read this and see if I was in anyway correct!