Slim Pickens

Filed in HIRING ARTICLES, MUNICIPALITY by on December 1, 2017

The indirect ripple effect of the Baby Boom makes for
Slim Pickens
I was at a council meeting the other night … invited to speak with them about Ravenhill Group conducting the search for their new Chief Administrative Officer. Like many other Canadian municipalities, they have suddenly found themselves victims of the     Baby Boom retirement … NOT directly this time, but indirectly.
Like so many municipalities, my friends in this eastern Ontario Township were finding out about the reality of Canada’s aging work force. Just like Dominoes, their CAO was leaving to fill another CAO role – one vacated by someone who had left to fill the chair of yet another a retiring Baby-Boomer CAO!
THE RIPPLE EFFECT, I call it! It is widely felt these days, but not so widely acknowledged … YET!


The number of job openings currently exceeds the number of qualified people by more than 50%! In plain English, this means that about half of the 3,700 municipalities in Canada are going to be without a qualified administrator at the helm sometime between now and 2022! And that’s a mere four years from now!

For those in Alberta, this might barely get you through your next election cycle. In BC, Manitoba and Ontario, four years just won’t work! And in the Maritimes and most of the rest of Canada, the clock for you started ticking last fall!

Many, like my friends the other night, who thought they were okay because their CAO was a relatively young man, are finding out that the ripple effect of retirement impacts in many different ways.

“I guess it’s ‘Slim Pickens’ out there these days!” offered the Mayor.

Well, Mr. Mayor, that’s an understatement, if ever there was one! For the past 11 years, I have been preaching, like some street corner evangelist, to anyone who would listen, that “THE END IS NEAR”! So it really shouldn’t come as any surprise at all that THIS DAY HAS ARRIVED!

Literally dozens – make that hundreds of municipal administrators have retired in the past 11 years. It seems that, at every municipal conference or trade show I attend these days, I am saying goodbye to yet another old friend who has decided to pack it in. To paraphrase what the wise Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said: If there is one thing that’s constant, it’s change!


Municipalities that don’t adapt to the reality of the aging population could face – in fact, are already facing – severe challenges and missed opportunities. The impacts are already being felt in some municipalities and regions where towns and cities are struggling to find younger employees to replace retiring Baby Boomers.


If municipalities don’t manage their labour force according to the new trends, it’s going to be difficult for them to thrive and grow. Why not simply become a more accommodating workplace to entice aging employees to put off retirement!


The truth is, older workers often can’t or don’t want to work full-time. Flexible hours, part-time jobs and work assignments are ways to keep them in the fold. Some municipalities are also recruiting seniors to fill some of their gaps.

Boomers … the older workers, usually have a great work ethic and the experience your municipality likely needs. A strongly held opinion among some is that, at 65, people are done. That perception has to go. Municipalities that want to retain older workers should consider dropping the mandatory retirement age – if they have one – and offering retirees flexible, part-time and temporary jobs. If you haven’t already, pair people who are soon to retire with younger workers … one way to try to pass on some of the knowledge and skills.


Another possible solution is immigration, which has always been important in addressing labour shortages in Canada. Not long ago, we brought a municipal engineer from Ireland … a great opportunity for him and the city we placed him in. We have also done some prospecting and recruiting of finance and tax specialists from overseas.

Municipalities will have to adjust their long-held views be more flexible in accepting people trained, educated and born outside Canada


A very logical solution is to move your municipality to the front of the line by retaining Ravenhill Group to locate and recruit your next Director or Manager of whatever department is about to become leaderless. It’s to your advantage to have our professionals selling your opportunity and your municipality!
Don’t leave that to a generic job posting that great candidates may or may not see.

Call us today. We can – and WILL – help!

1-888-447-5910 ext. 727




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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