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Staff: More resources needed to address high turnover at city hall

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

It’s starting to become a problem, and one the City of Oshawa is going to need to bring in a professional to help with.

Not only is the city seeing an increase in the number of voluntary resignations of staff members, a number that has doubled in the past year, but come 2017, 46 per cent of the city’s regular employees will be eligible for retirement with some level of a pension, and over the next five years, nearly 30 per cent of the city’s workers will be eligible to take the leap with a full pension to back them up.

In a recently released report addressing the issue, city manager Jag Sharma recommends council consider hiring a recruitment specialist to deal with the high rate of turnover that “may be our new normal in a very competitive employment market.”

The item, which will form part of council’s budget deliberations in January, could cost the city an additional $96,000 plus benefits for such a position.

The new specialist could also help to reduce the workload of the human resources department, which has dealt with a 20 per cent increase in recruitments (107 this year from 89 in 2015). The employees also spend 2,500 hours annually on recruitment and the 15 employees rack up approximately $24,000 in lieu time, not including the hours put in by temporary staff members.

“This is a significant issue and I think that it’s well worth having someone come in that is able to manage this,” says Councillor Amy McQuaid-England, who also said the number of resignations, which has increased from seven to 14 in the last year, is “alarming.”

For Councillor Bob Chapman, he says it’s hard for numbers to depict the real picture of why people are leaving their jobs at the city.

“I’m sure there’s a myriad of reasons why people leave,” he said.

According to the report, the city is in the midst of a “transformative demographic shift” that will see more full-time positions left vacant due to retirements and resignations.

The staff member, if approved by council, would be responsible for all administrative procedures for hiring and recruiting for unionized positions. providing direction to staff, ensuring hiring practices are in line with legislation, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of the city’s hiring efforts. Currently, the city’s HR department does not have the capacity to do this.

The item has been deferred to council’s budget deliberations in January.