Millennials Now Represent The Largest Generation In The Canadian Workforce

Filed in Uncategorized by on January 2, 2017

image004Over the years, I’ve written a lot about the Baby Boomer Generation and how they (or, more accurately, “we”) are a fast- disappearing breed; I was reminded again this year, while watching a TBS tribute to those who passed away during 2016, of just how fast we’re disappearing. Maybe you saw it, too? The tribute scrolls through still pictures of Hollywood execs and entertainers and movie stars (such as Don Harris, Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds) and other well-known individuals who “left us” throughout the year. Not that retiring is like passing away, but watching the annual tribute always causes me to pause and think about the relentless march of time!image001image002   

For those of us who have made it through another year, we’re one step closer to retirement of some description, and as I often say when celebrating a birthday, “Getting older beats the alternative!” As I write this, I can mentally scroll through pictures of all the Ricks, Rons and Ruths whom I used to see at FCM, CAMA and AMO – folks we’ve all known over the years, and who retired in 2016.

image005Interestingly, as 2016 ends and 2017 begins, we have entered a seven-year demographic bulge, during which millions of Baby Boomers will reach retirement age. Despite the improving economy, Boomers will continue to retire at age 65.

As they do, new and wider employment gaps will be created that highly specialized, technology-focused younger generations are ill-prepared to fill.

As a result, municipalities will be forced to re-engage retired Boomers as independent contractors … something many towns and cities are already doing. When the Boomers finally do retire, the age-old question of who will replace them will still be the “64-thousand-dollar question”!  (Note: If you’re old enough to remember this game show, your retirement isn’t far off!)

Rise of the Millennial Workforce

image007A new report about Millennials and demographic trends in the U.S.A., put out by KPCB recently, caught my attention, and I was curious to know how their stats compared to Canada’s. I quickly discovered that the trend is the same here: Millennials—in sheer numbers, at least—became the largest cohort in the Canadian workforce sometime last year!

For the last 20 years or so, many have been fretting about the day this would begin, and now it has begun! Municipalities across Canada need to know how they’re going to recruit, train, retain, and advance these employees as Boomer retirement accelerates.

As I’ve pointed out before, Millennials aren’t from some distant planet! For the most part, they want the same things their Boomer parents wanted. But there are generational differences that will change the way many municipalities operate over the coming years. As employees, Millennials are chipping away at organizational structures that many of their predecessors took for granted. How this will impact city hall remains to be seen, but the traditional office has become one of the negotiables; 70% of Millennial employees say they’d rather telecommute! Their early experience with the job market has also been different. Unlike Generation X, unemployment hasn’t been a big problem for the majority of Millennials. Instead, underemployment, temporary contract positions, lousy pay and never-ending “internships” have chipped away at their expectations, and in the process, their sense of loyalty to any given employer.

image009Managers love to complain about the sense of entitlement, lack of respect for hierarchy, and frequent job-hopping they see in their young employees (make that youngish—the oldest are in their mid-30s today). Although these sore points are problems, an even bigger issue is Canada’s shrinking workforce, which means the fight to hire and retain good employees is only getting more difficult.

According to a recently released report from the Conference Board of Canada (CBOC), Canada will face significant challenges due to an aging population and historically-low fertility levels. These demographic factors will negatively impact the country’s economic growth through, among other things, a shrinking labour force. Resolving the related issues will require new ways of thinking. Accepting organizational structures that have few or no mid-level management between staff and managers, granting employees increased autonomy, and establishing the flexible work-places that these employees prefer are among the concepts that will have to be considered.

If your municipality is like most, you are recruiting now, or at least thinking about it. And that’s where we come in, because we specialize in finding “passive” candidates (those not looking, but open to opportunities) for our clients. Remember, if you advertise, you’re almost guaranteed to find unhappy, unemployed people … sometimes both.

Call us today; we can help!



Bruce Malcolm

About the Author ()

Bruce's background includes 30+ years of human resource management experience covering all aspects of HR administration with a clear specialty in team building and recruiting. He created and developed the concept of “Ethical Head-Hunting™”. Bruce began his recruiting career in 1971 with Prudential Assurance.

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