Why is it so difficult…

Filed in HIRING ARTICLES, MUNICIPALITY by on February 27, 2018

…To find Good Staff?

As author David Foot (Boom Bust and Echo) says, “Demographics explain two-thirds of just about anything!”

The question “Why is it so difficult to find good     staff?” can be answered best through a quick review of Canadian demographics particularly as they relate to age groups.

The years 1960 to 1980 saw the mass entry of baby boomers into the workplace. During that time, the number of men and women earning a salary and paying taxes grew at a spectacular rate. But, by 1970, the birth rate in Canada had declined to 17 births per 1,000 people. Since 2000, it has been floating around 11 births per 1,000.

This incredible nosedive in our birth rate is the reason behind many of the big changes we are now experiencing. Lower birth rates have given way to changes in pretty well every area of our lives … like housing, savings, and travel, to name just three. Over the next 10 years, that same low birth rate will play a very large part in your municipality’s economic and social changes. Even more significantly, it is and will be the main reason that there is an ever-increasing shortage of men and women to fill the ranks of your municipal staff.


When the first baby boomers turned 65, in January of 2011, the “flipside” of the baby boom began in earnest. It opened the door to an ever-increasing shortage of employable Canadians. This phenomenon will continue for years to come.

Baby boomers born between 1945 and 1960 are now between 58 and 73 years old. In just 2 years, in 2020, they will be 60 to 75 years old. Most of them will have begun their retirement, if not retired outright.

Today, in Canada, baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 1000 every day – that’s about 30,000 every month or 365,000 every year! Effectively, they are going to retire en masse, and leave few children and grandchildren behind them to fill the thousands of vacancies that will arise.

Just as they entered the job market en masse between 1960 and 1980, so they will leave it almost completely between now and 2025.

The important thing for you to know as a municipal professional is that these same baby boomers did not have many children of their own (they had even fewer grandchildren, too). As a result, they are directly responsible for the current shortage of good, qualified potential employees.

The “baby bust generation” (those born between 1966 and 1974), also known as Generation X (or ‘Gen Xers’), started entering the labour force in the late 1980s and should have experienced, according to theory, economic advantages. Instead, they were greeted with high unemployment and lower incomes.

The baby-bust additions to the labour force were and are small, and, as a result, they are profoundly underrepresented as a proportion of the population producing income and consuming goods, than were the baby boomers.

At this time it is primarily Gen Xers along with late boomers who we look to, to fill senior positions in most municipalities – roles like CAO, CFO, General Managers and Directors. Since Gen X is only 60% the size of the baby boomer generation, even if every Genexer was to take a baby boomer’s job, there would still be a 40% shortage

Gen Y … those born in the 80’s are not to be ignored because they definitely offer hope for filling some senior municipal jobs in the years to come.

Generation Y is technically savvy. They grew up with technology and rely on it to perform their jobs better. Armed with iPhones, Ipads, laptops, and other gadgets, Generation Y is plugged-in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can recognize them quite easily … they are the ones with their heads down … buried in their technology. They almost always put family ahead of work. Generation Y is confident, ambitious and achievement-oriented. Generation Y craves attention in the forms of feedback and guidance and may benefit greatly from mentors.

How will this affect your municipality?

The year 2012, was the first time, there were more people in the age group where people typically leave the labour force (55 to 64) than in the age group where people typically enter it (15 to 24). Globe& Mail

As baby boomers become senior citizens, the pressure of economic and social demands will impact your municipality greatly. There is already a marked shift away from schools (some are being sold or leased) toward the needs of the elderly and all the costs associated with an aging population, including health care and income security.

Perhaps the most significant impact on your municipality will be your ability to hire and retain top staff. The simple truth is, there just will not be enough people to go around. In a previous article on the subject entitled “Where Will Your Municipality Be When The Music Stops?”, I likened it to reverse musical chairs … more and more chairs and fewer and fewer people.


Here are some ideas for recruiting new personnel:

Hold an open house … To help you better separate the wheat from the chaff, you should try adding another layer between resume-submission and the one-on-one interview.

Consider past candidates 

… Former rejections who have more experience and additional qualifications might make great hires now.

Hand pick dream candidates …Then show them you want them.Reaching out in a really personal manner demonstrates that you’re willing to go out of your way to get their attention

Offer referral incentives … Let people know that a financial reward is standard if you end up hiring their referral.

Use social networking sites … Actively search profiles. Rather than sifting through the hundreds of bad-fit resumes you might get in response to your job post, take the search into your own hands. Several websites allow candidates to create profiles that include their resumes and other details.

Look for talent in unlikely places …For example, one organization conducted a “blitz” of local retail stores and restaurants, sending employees out to interact with workers and offer interviews to those who really stood out.

Develop a relationship with a recruiter … Pick one who specializes in municipal recruiting … like Ravenhill Group Inc. We’ve got our finger directly on the pulse of these inexorable generational changes – we know who’s coming and who’s going – and when!

In the coming months and years, it will be important for you to know whom to call when you need recruiting help. We, at Ravenhill Group Inc. would be happy to discuss your current and future personnel needs with you, so feel free to call for a confidential conversation.

We are always ready to expound on the three reasons why working with us will see you through the cyclical ups and downs in the workforce population. We’ll make your life much easier by helping you to stabilize your municipality’s workforce. Call today! 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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