How to have work life balance in internal audit

By Robert Half on 7 November 2023
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

The 2022 Gallup global report on workplace stress found that Hong Kong employees were the most stressed in East Asia.

Although internal auditing offers a better work life balance than external auditing — not to mention being lucrative, with plenty of room for career growth — the ebbs and flows of the role can be stressful.

Whether you’re a seasoned auditor or you’ve started a new job in internal audit, achieving a work life balance is essential to your and your company’s wellbeing — during year-end audit season, and off.

Here are a few ways to approach work life balance as an internal auditor, as well as some tips on how to have uncomfortable conversations about boundaries with your coworkers and boss alike.

Related: What does an internal auditor do?

1. Define what “work life balance” means to you

“Work life balance” can mean different things to different people. For instance, perhaps you enjoy the flexibility having a work-laptop affords, so that you can work from home on certain days. Alternatively, perhaps you prefer logging out and switching off at 5:00 pm each day and leaving work at the office — and that’s fine too.

The idea of mapping out what work life balance looks like for you is to ensure that you’re able to set firm boundaries with colleagues and managers.

2. Set boundaries and voice your needs early into your role

Although it might seem counterintuitive, it’s best to be honest about your expectations and boundaries early into a new role. It’s not worth worrying about how this looks early on; in a healthy work environment, your coworkers and boss will be mutually supportive of your boundaries. Sometimes, internal auditors are required to travel frequently — if there are specific dates or periods during which you cannot travel (e.g., school holidays), there’s absolutely nothing wrong with communicating your needs to your manager.

If you’re already well into your role, there’s still no harm in addressing your boundaries at the workplace. It doesn’t need to be drastic; perhaps this is as simple as an auto-reply email that informs colleagues that you’re working towards better work-life balance and will not be checking your email outside office hours unless an external audit is ongoing.

To address bigger boundaries with your manager, you can approach them with a conversation about how you need to “re-evaluate” your boundaries. If you feel the need to give them a reason, you can always say, “I’ve been here x years,” or “y has changed since I first started in this role.”

Related: How to balance work and family life in Hong Kong

3. Unplug when you’re unplugged

This is a boundary most employees feel guilty reinforcing; however, it’s important to not work when you’re off the clock — especially when you’re not receiving additional compensation.

Whether it’s your lunch break or pre- and post- office hours, breaks are important. Not just for you, but for your company too!

Several studies over the years have confirmed that taking a break increases focus when employees return to work and improves productivity and job satisfaction. 

4. Use technology to your advantage

Over nine out of ten (97%) Hong Kong business leaders have initiatives in place to improve the work-life balance of their team, with flexible working hours and telecommuting being among the most popular.

Much of internal auditing, depending on your role, can be adapted to a flexible work environment, or perhaps even flexible office hours.The adoption of advanced audit management software not only automates time-consuming tasks but also facilitates seamless collaboration among team members, irrespective of geographical distances. With the ability to conduct remote audits using video conferencing tools, auditors can minimize travel-related stress and optimize their time.

Mobile technology ensures that crucial audit-related information is accessible on the go, allowing for flexibility in work arrangements. The integration of data analytics tools not only enhances the efficiency of audits but also enables auditors to focus on high-impact areas. By embracing flexible scheduling and utilizing wellness and productivity apps, technology empowers auditors to prioritize tasks effectively and manage their well-being.

Overall, the strategic use of technology in internal audit not only improves efficiency but also contributes significantly to fostering a healthier and more balanced work-life dynamic.

5. Prioritise your health and wellbeing

There’s no denying that there are times where working as an internal auditor is a high-stress job, especially if you work at a bigger firm. However, your health and wellbeing — both mental and physical — must come first.

This means getting adequate sleep, eating well, and taking time to check-in with yourself mentally and emotionally. You’re of the best use to yourself and your employer when you’re well; no one gets bonuses for coming into work sick or working through lunch.

Amy Wong, Division Director at Robert Half and specialised financial services recruiter says "make self-care a priority. Engage in activities that help you relax, rejuvenate, and maintain good physical and mental health. This may include regular exercise, pursuing hobbies, spending time with loved ones, meditating, or engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Doing things that make you feel good will not only help in supporting work-life balance, but it will also leave you feeling refreshed so you can come to work to be your best self."

While it’s true that a lack of coordination or insufficient training often causes additional undue stress in internal audit roles, open communication within your team can ensure you and everyone around you has better overall work-life balance.

If you are looking for a new IA role, apply with Robert Half. Robert Half can help you take your career further.

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