Turnover, job vacancies climbing in Oxford County government

·3 min read

The labour crunch plaguing employers across Southwestern Ontario is also hitting the Oxford County government, a new report shows, with its long-term care sector hit particularly hard.

A staff report heading to Oxford council this week shows the municipal government’s voluntary turnover rate and job vacancies have steadily increased in the last decade.

The voluntary turnover rate — the percentage of workers who resigned or retired from a permanent position each year — climbed to 12.5 per cent this year from 7.8 per cent in 2018 and 5.3 per cent a decade ago.

“That’s where we’re trending higher than we ever have before,” said Amy Smith, the county’s director of human resources.

But the municipal government has job openings for reasons besides retirements and resignations, Smith said, citing parental and sick leaves and season vacancies as examples.

According to the report, the most significant jump in the number of job vacancies was during the first two years of the pandemic, with 433 jobs up for grabs in 2021 for such reasons as new positions, internal transfers, resignations, retirements and leaves, compared to 233 openings one year prior.

While high employee turnover was prevalent across all departments, Smith said the long-term care sector was hit the hardest. The county has about 800 staff, with 330 working in long-term care.

“Most health-care services are experiencing that, and the county has been no exception,” she said.

The county, which began in 2019 tracking vacancies posted versus those filled, estimates it will recoup 425 of its 535 projected job vacancies this year.

“Back in 2019, we were able to fill almost 100 per cent of those vacancies . . . But over the years, that gap has widened,” Smith said.

“It’s just, again, showing that the labour market is affecting us as well, and there’s a lack of individuals to fill the vacancies that we’re looking to fill.”

Oxford's figures come after Statistics Canada reported the highest quarterly job vacancies on record, with 957,500 open positions across the country in the first quarter of this year — a 2.7 per cent increase from the previous peak in the fourth quarter of last year.

The Oxford report noted that since the onset of the pandemic, there has been an upward trend in retirements, staff moving out of the region and workers leaving for jobs that allow them to work from home.

It also cited findings from a recent survey that indicated 72 per cent (29 out of 40) supervisors and managers are, or previously have been, experiencing burnout partly because of a rise in staff turnover and workload.

In addition to doing exit interviews and tracking the reasons candidates decline job offers, the county plans to conduct an employee survey later this month, using the results to develop an approach that will help attract and retain workers.

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Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press