A BATTLE…in the War for Talent

Filed in HIRING ARTICLES, MUNICIPALITY by on April 30, 2019


It seems as if the war for talent is never-ending. Ever since the dawn of modern municipalities, towns and cities have been looking to attract and retain the best possible people. I first used the phrase the war for talent  in 2015 when I wrote an article by the same name. Later that year, Ravenhill Group produced a short video that you can VIEW HERE.  It briefly deals with the changing landscape around attracting and retaining talent – basically that it’s getting more challenging as baby boomers leave the workforce. Now, almost four years later, it’s not just challenging, it’s become downright difficult and complex.

Let’s break it down a bit more and look at what’s fueling the war for talent..

Skills Gap and Talent Shortage

According to the Globe& Mail, there has been a renewed focus on bringing Canada’s labour-skills data into the 21st century – with increased funding to match. But progress has been slow, and the stakes are rising. A growing economy and aging population have eaten into the available labour pool, resulting in a four-decade low unemployment rate. An increasing number of organizations complain that they can’t find enough skilled/talented workers. How do we know that? We hear about it almost every day!

There are varying opinions on what is causing this skills gap, and what the potential solutions are. But, to help fill the labour gaps, successive federal governments have increased what’s known as “economic” immigration: targeting highly-skilled foreign workers. The provinces have also been given increased powers to recruit immigrants to fill their skills needs. All this comes against a backdrop of rising automation and artificial intelligence, which will also dramatically reshape the labour market.

The most recent ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey found that 38% of employers are having difficulty filling jobs.

Changing Demographics

According to one recent report, the face of the workforce will change dramatically over the next decade in terms of numbers and ages of employees. Today, millennials are already the largest demographic, having surpassed baby boomers in 2016. By 2020, they are expected to comprise 50% of the workforce, and 75% by 2025. We also see Gen Z (the generation after the millennials) creeping into the workplace, and they currently comprise over 6.5 million people in Canada. Not only that, but the labor participation rate in Canada appears to be gradually yet consistently shrinking. This changing mix of demographics brings new values, attitudes, expectations, and ways of working. Still, our municipalities have always had to adapt to new generations entering the workforce. The overall sense, however, is that previous adaptations were very slow and gradual; they’ve no  w become more aggressive.

Bottom line? Attracting and retaining top talent is a major concern for every organization. In the coming years, municipalities are going to need to hire people, but there just won’t be enough talent to go around.

Today’s top organizations aren’t just looking for people, though – they’re looking for the best people! I often use the term “Top Talent.” We also have to remember that the war for talent  isn’t just about attracting potential employees,  but retaining existing staff.

So, how can your municipality better compete for ‘Top Talent’ and keep the talent you already have?

Five ways to compete for and keep ‘Top Talent’

  1. It’s all about your brand. Staff, especially younger staff, want to work for organizations that have a great reputation and an attractive culture. It’s never been more important to boost awareness of your municipality’s strongest assets and to be a values-driven organization that knows what it stands for and lives by those values.
  2. Rally around your purpose.Millennials, in particular, want to know the purpose of the organization they work for and how their work fits in to make a difference. Be clear about why your/their work matters and provide regular and individualized feedback to staff about how they meaningfully fit into the larger purpose.
  3. Offer a seat at the table. Millennials are the first generation that grew up sitting at the “adult table.” They’re not prepared to wait to be an influence. Consciously create an employee engagement program that involves employees of every age and level in bubbling up ideas to make your municipality stronger. The plurality of perspectives will make yours a better organization and more attractive to young, in-demand talent.
  4. Embrace diversity.People want to work for organizations that, at least in part, look like them. Every municipality, no matter where it is, benefits from consciously building a diverse team, especially if it hopes to succeed in the talent hunt.
  5. Be family-friendly.Millennials are generally marrying and having children later,  but millennial households are more consensual, collaborative and equal, with more women earning graduate degrees and being the primary breadwinners. And 42 per cent of men serve as their family’s primary cooks! Look for millennial talent to drive further change in your workplace and insist on implementing flexibility and family-friendly policies.

On your marks, get set …

The race for finding and retaining top talent is on. Municipal employers who hope to compete successfully for younger employees now need to learn what consumer brands have already discovered: Give them what they want. And if you really want to hire someone exceptional, don’t be afraid to get some professional help. We, at Ravenhill Group, are always be  happy to hear from you, and ready to roll up our sleeves to find you the talent you need.

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.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Receive the latest news and trends in the Municipal industry.

We don't share emails with any third party!