HR Audits: When to Do Them and What to Look For

There’s a lot for small businesses to stay on top of as it relates to HR. That’s why an annual audit, perhaps coupled with semiannual mini audits, are so important to ensuring a business is in compliance with applicable laws. Here’s when you should be performing these audits and what you should be looking for.

As a business leader, I’m sure at some point you’ve asked yourself the question of whether you should conduct an HR audit. With HR having so many different components that are integral to the success of a company, there’s good reason to ask yourself whether your HR practices are as good as they could be.

From compliance, to health and safety, training and development, recruiting and retention, compensation and benefits, there’s a ton to stay on top of!

HR Audits can help a company understand the impact its HR practices are having on the organization and help quantify results as well as set the stage for necessary changes.

While there is a lot to look over, particularly for small businesses, the potential of noncompliance with applicable laws is a significant risk. In this article, we’ll explore when HR audits should be conducted, what to audit, and how they can positively affect the organization overall.

When to audit

It’s best to do a full-scale audit once a year at most, given the resources required to perform them. That said, mini-audits conducted throughout the year can be valuable. Given every six months, these mini audits can provide for some level of course correction without too much departmental pain. Company leaders might also want to think about performing an audit following any significant event in the company’s history, such as management changes.

What to audit

Consider the weaknesses you’re aware of as it relates to your HR as well as what your available resources are. This should help guide your thinking as to what to audit. Keep a running log of issues that pop up throughout the year that might not be covered by your company’s policies and procedures. This will also help you identify areas you will want to address during your annual review process (or immediately, if need be.)

Some common areas companies focus on during the HR audit review include issues related to hiring, performance management, discipline or termination.

Other areas to think about include:

  • Misclassification of exempt and nonexempt jobs: The complexity of wage and hour laws and regulations means that almost every company has job positions that have been misclassified at some point in time. This could expose your business to liability for past overtime.
  • Inadequate personnel files: Reviews of personnel files often find things such as informal, vague or inconsistent disciplinary warnings; ambiguous, inaccurate or outdated performance evaluations; personal health information mixed into these files instead of being kept separate; and more.
  • Prohibited attendance policies: Just as it is with the misclassification of exempt and nonexempt jobs, the complexity of family and medical leave laws can also be difficult for companies to remain in compliance. The records generated by your system are your primary means of defense against wage and hour claims, so time-keeping policies and practices must be clearly communicated and consistently administered.
  • Form I-9 errors: Additionally, inadequate documentation is found around hiring practices, such as missing or incomplete Forms I-9. Employers face fines of between $100 to $1,000 for each failure to accurately complete a Form I-9.

Kellee Perez is an account Executive at Benefit Innovations Group specializing in analyzing and implementing HR services within small and large businesses.

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  • Next up: Important Update from Ohio BWC!
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  • Important Update from Ohio BWC!

    The deadline for your company’s payroll true-up reports was originally Aug. 15. However, because this is a new process, the Ohio BWC has extended a grace period until Sept. 29 to ensure all employers are able to complete this requirement.

    The deadline for your company’s payroll true-up reports was originally Aug. 15. However, because this is a new process, the Ohio BWC has extended a grace period until Sept. 29 to ensure all employers are able to complete this requirement.

    With the transition to prospective billing, Ohio BWC now requires employers to reconcile their actual payroll for the prior policy year and reconcile any differences in premium paid. The payroll true-up allows Ohio BWC to calculate your premium accurately. Even if your payroll for the year matches the estimate, Ohio BWC provided, or you had zero payroll, you must complete a true-up report.

    The quickest and easiest way to true-up is online with a BWC e-account. If you do not have a BWC e-account, you can create one at www.bwc.ohio.gov/. Online true-up and payment will also save you money. Eligible employers will qualify for a 1-percent premium rebate, up to a $2,000 maximum rebate. While you can complete the true-up through the BWC call center, wait times may be extremely high. Therefore, Ohio BWC suggests you file your payroll true-up with a BWC e-account.

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  • Next up: Tips for Your Business: Increase Productivity by Reducing Stress
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  • Tips for Your Business: Increase Productivity by Reducing Stress

    Stress in the workforce has become one of the biggest problems in business today. It has been called a global epidemic, with numerous studies encouraging businesses to be more proactive in helping their employees manage stress. “Every day, people deal with stress at work or in their personal lives — or probably both,” says Cindy Ballog, manager of Health Promotion, Wellness and Disease Management for Medical Mutual. “That’s why it’s important for organizations to understand the effect it can have on the health of their employees, and what that means for the future of their business.”

    Stress in the workforce has become one of the biggest problems in business today. It has been called a global epidemic, with numerous studies encouraging businesses to be more proactive in helping their employees manage stress. 

    “Every day, people deal with stress at work or in their personal lives — or probably both,” says Cindy Ballog, manager of Health Promotion, Wellness and Disease Management for Medical Mutual. “That’s why it’s important for organizations to understand the effect it can have on the health of their employees, and what that means for the future of their business.”


    With the high demand and fast pace of today’s work environment, employees at practically every level of an organization are dealing with some level of stress. By providing stress management resources, organizations can help employees be healthier and control healthcare costs. “Healthy employees are often happier and more productive employees,” says Ballog. “In many cases, turnover and absenteeism can also go down.”


    Stress is hard on the body. There are the obvious and immediate effects, such as headaches, upset stomach and loss of sleep. But there are more long-term consequences. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, which makes it tougher to fight off illness, causing people to get sick more often. It’s also linked to high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, heart attacks, anxiety and depression. These conditions and others can worsen as a result of continuous stress. 


    According to Ballog, diet and exercise go a long way. “When your body feels good, your mind often does, too,” she explains. “People often adopt poor eating and lifestyle habits as a form of stress relief, but those habits just make the symptoms worse.” Exercise is another important factor. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can have a significant impact on stress. Even at work, when feasible, Ballog says employees should be encouraged to do things like go for a walk at lunch or use the stairs instead of the elevator. 


    Of course, each employee is different when it comes to stress, with different sources and different effects on their health. Some employers offer classes on relaxation techniques and managing time more effectively. Employees should also feel comfortable discussing challenges and asking for help, which can help reduce stress for those employees and ensure projects are completed on time. 


    “It can be difficult to eliminate all the stress factors in life, but everyone can find ways to understand their stressors and respond to them a little better,” says Ballog. “Helping your employees along in the process could help your business be healthier—both physically and financially.”

    This article originally appeared in the July 20, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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  • Next up: Internship Help for Your Business
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  • Internship Help for Your Business

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central program is collaborating with Tri-C to offer GCP members the opportunity to participate as an internship host employer for Tri-C’s Summer Internship Program. There are 50 internships available and employers can host more than one intern. The program is five to 10 weeks (maximum of 100 hours to be worked) from May 30 to August 11, 2017.

    Internship Help for Your Business

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central program is collaborating with Tri-C to offer GCP members the opportunity to participate as an internship host employer for Tri-C’s Summer Internship Program. There are 50 internships available and employers can host more than one intern. The program is five to 10 weeks (maximum of 100 hours to be worked) from May 30 to August 11, 2017.

    As an external host employer, the company would be placed with an intern that best matches your needs. Tri-C manages the HR functions of the internship such as hiring, placement and internship compensation. Students will be compensated by the college at $10 per hour and will also receive financial support for one course during the Summer Term (up to 4 credits) and one book (up to $125).  

    The host employer is responsible for:

    • Providing supervision, coaching, feedback, and support to the intern.
    • Providing meaningful work and learning experiences for the intern.
    • Developing and sharing a work plan for the intern, outlining objectives and deliverables throughout the five- or 10-week internship.
    • Providing a workspace and other resources (e.g., access to computer, reference materials, and telephone).
    • Attending the Host Information Session and an Onboarding Session during Spring Term.
    • Attending the Internship Fairs. This is essential because this is where you will meet and interview potential interns and make your top three intern selections.
      • Metropolitan Campus (downtown Cleveland) - Monday, March 13, 2017, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
      • Western Campus (Parma) - Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Internship host opportunities are limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are interested in hosting a student during summer 2017, please complete the Summer Internship Job Description and return to Angela Finding at afinding@gcpartnership.com by November 18, 2016. For questions regarding the program, call Angela at 216-592-2385.

    Please click on the links below to access additional information about the program.


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  • Next up: Internship Program Resources for Employers
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  • Internship Program Resources for Employers

    Cultivating talent early on in the IT industry was a focus of one of the sessions at the 4th annual GET IT Here! Summit hosted by RITE on April 15 during the 2016 chapter of OHTec’s annual Tech Week.

    Cultivating talent early on in the IT industry was a focus of one of the sessions at the 4th annual GET IT Here! Summit hosted by RITE on April 15 during the 2016 chapter of OHTec’s annual Tech Week.

    The attraction, development and retention of employees in the industry begins at the internship level. During the first afternoon session titled “Resources for Employers” the Ohio Department of Education’s Linda O’Connor and Brenda Davis Smith with the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education presented resources employers can use as it relates to developing their internship programs.

    Those resources are listed below:

    RITE Resources: A list of resources compiled by RITE that assist employers with developing and managing a quality internship program and additional information for educators.

    Contact:

    • Courtney DeOreo, Board Administrator
    • cdeoreo@lorainccc.edu
    • Lorain County Community College
    • 440-366-4214

    Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE): Brings together business and higher education for regional economic & workforce development. Their Northeast Ohio Talent Exchange program offers individual consulting to assess your needs and design a custom program that supplements your talent acquisition and development strategies. Through their extensive network of colleges and universities, they can help you gain exposure and establish relationships with career services professionals and faculty members in a variety of disciplines. 

    Contact:

    Ohio Department of Education (ODE): Oversees the state’s public education system, which includes public school districts, joint vocational school districts and charter schools. The department also monitors educational service centers, other regional education providers, early learning and childcare programs, and private schools.

    Contact:

    Apprenticeships and Internship: Descriptions and qualifications of the different types of apprenticeships and internships employers offer.

    Ohio Career Exploration Internship Program: Grants for businesses that employ up to three high school students in career exploration internships/year, 50% of the wages paid to the student up to a $5,000. Eligible to attend school in Ohio (ages 16-18) or enrolled in grade 11 or 12 and must employ them for 200 hours (20 weeks)

    Contact:

    Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OHMEP): OHMEP supports Ohio’s small and medium-sized manufacturers by providing the products, services and assistance that are dedicated to the productivity, growth and global competitiveness of Ohio manufacturers.

    Contact:

    US Department of Labor Apprenticeship USA Toolkit: Includes tools on building apprenticeship partnerships, business outreach materials and a guide for Business Service staff, guides for funding apprenticeship and counting outcomes under WIOA and models of successful workforce system/apprenticeship partnerships

    For additional information, visit Ohio Department of Education and search keywords “apprenticeships” and “internships” for helpful forms, templates and contacts for program models.

    View the full Get IT Here! Summit Afternoon Presentation

    Looking for more IT-related resources? Keep an eye out for the June Mind Your Business Resource Guide that will feature a resource directory related to the IT industry. Contact Sara Adams at sadams@gcpartnership.com for more details.

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  • Next up: Internship Programs: 3 Keys to Finding and Retaining Top Talent
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  • Internship Programs: 3 Keys to Finding and Retaining Top Talent

    Hundreds gathered at Corporate College East on Feb. 21 for the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit. Throughout the year, we will be bringing you highlights covered during the event. Today’s recap focuses on the three key strengths of FedEx Custom Critical’s internship program.

    The success FedEx Custom Critical’s internship program has enjoyed over the years comes down to three things, Ramona Hood, the company’s Vice President of Operations, Planning and Strategy, said during the opening keynote of the 2019 Cleveland Internship Summit:

    • Establishing partnerships with key partners;
    • providing interns with meaningful work; and
    • putting an intentional focus on the program in order to generate the highest possible return.

    Hood elaborated on each of these points during her address, providing a roadmap the assembled group of business leaders and educators could follow in order to provide the best possible internship experience for their own students and interns. For example:

    Establishing partnerships

    FedEx maintains close partnerships with several schools in the Northeast Ohio region in order to ensure that the company’s pipeline of interns—typically between 12 to 18 interns are in the program at one time—remains full.

    FedEx also takes these partnerships a step further through assisting the universities with resume workshops for the students, mock interviews and more. These kinds of touchpoints help build relationships with the schools and through those relationships, FedEx Custom Critical’s internship program leaders can provide feedback on the students’ work at the company and, vice versa, the universities can give constructive criticism back to FedEx on the structure of their program. She added later that it’s vital for companies to take this feedback seriously and be willing to make changes as needed based on it.

    Meaningful work

    The days of viewing interns as someone who refills the boss’ coffee mug are long over, Hood said. It’s vital that companies provide meaningful work and experience to the students because these are people who might well end up working fulltime for the company after graduation.

    At FedEx, Hood said company officials have found the best way to accomplish this goal is by doing legwork before the internship starts. The company communicates expectations and what success looks like and in doing so, can gauge the intern’s progress as the internship progresses.

    Hood said her company is also not afraid to give interns an opportunity to focus on finding ways to transform the organization and make it more efficient. A lot of times, this means taking a closer look at repetitive processes at the company and allowing the students to find ways to improve these processes. An added benefit? It frees up time for fulltime staff members to focus on other important tasks.

    Intentional focus

    Lastly, Hood stressed to attendees that a company’s internship program must be a point of intentional focus within a company. It’s critical, she said, that companies design internships to be a part of their overall talent strategy.

    As an example, she cited the fact that FedEx takes internships as an opportunity to take their own fulltime staff and challenge them even further by placing them in a mentorship role. Not only does such an action help the interns excel within the program, it also gives the fulltime employee experience in a leadership role.

    Want to know more about internship best practices? Visit the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central hub to learn more about how to build a best-in-class internship program at your business.

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