The global economy continues to improve, and there’s plenty of evidence that organizations are investing in stronger risk management and internal control infrastructure, including internal audit functions. In fact, early indications are that almost one-third of U.S. Fortune 500 companies plan to add new internal audit staff positions in 2014.
As hard as it may be for CAEs to attract the right talent, recruitment will not be the most significant personnel challenge. It’s convincing the best and brightest internal audit stars to stay with the department when there are attractive opportunities to transition into a business unit or a service firm.
I learned early in my tenure as a CAE that retaining the best internal audit talent required a continuous effort on my part and those of the managers who worked for me. Some of the strategies I deployed to retain talented staff came through trial and error. However, I had the advantage of being guided by my own experiences. After all, I first joined an internal audit department at 21 years old, and as a restless 20-something (yes — today’s millennials didn’t invent restless ambition), I changed internal audit roles several times in the early years of my career.
So, as a CAE, I constantly reminded myself of the reasons I had changed internal audit roles in the genesis of my career, and I tried to address the things that had caused me to pull up stakes and seek out other opportunities. In the end, I focused on six things that I needed to do every day to retain the best and brightest members of my internal audit staff:
As with any HR challenges, there are no magic formulas for success in retaining the best and brightest talent. However, failing to challenge, acknowledge, showcase, reward, support, and invest in your staff will dramatically increase their flight risks. These are lessons I learned in my own career, and that I later used effectively as a CAE. I welcome your ideas on this important topic.