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Managing CAO Stressors in a Challenging Time

Managing CAO Stressors in a Challenging Time

Uncertainty in funding is one of the many stressors CAOs must contend with. Already juggling the complex demands of the role, CAOs are worried not just about overall cuts to municipal budgets, but also cuts to jointly funded programs and initiatives. 

In addition, municipalities are facing challenges in recruitment and retention. As the Baby Boomer generation begins to retire, the Millennial workforce presents different priorities, and are often looking for greater flexibility than the current system provides. 

CAO Stressors in Northern and Upper-Tier Municipalities

A recent Ontario CAO survey and report was conducted by StrategyCorp Inc. to document the sentiments and challenges facing the group in 2019. The survey focused on northern municipality CAOs and upper-tier municipality CAOs. Among all surveyed though, there were consistent challenges:

  • Managing the fiscal situation
  • Managing uncertainty about restructuring
  • Keeping the management team in place

The Particular CAO Stressors in Northern Municipalities

Although many of the challenges for Ontario municipality CAOs are the same, northern municipalities had different priorities as reported in the survey

1. Climate Change Is a Priority for Northern Municipalities

Some of the upper-tier municipalities stated no plans for climate change initiatives, but northern municipalities see climate change as a priority, with mitigation plans already in place. Often, in northern areas, the farmers lead the charge on putting climate change at the top of the priority list. 

2. Recruitment and Retention of Talent Is a Challenge

Recruitment and Retention of Talent Is a ChallengeIt can be difficult to recruit talent to a northern region, and the municipalities still have to compete with local mining and other resource industry employers for top talent. Candidates have difficulty with the idea of moving a family up north, citing reasons like requiring a second car due to lack of transit.

Alleviate Some CAO Stressors Using Local Real-time Data

The complexities of the CAO’s job include external factors beyond a CAO’s control. Simply having data doesn’t change that, but it can take a few worries off the CAO’s plate to allow attention to be directed on the remaining tasks that require the CAO’s specific expertise.

There are platforms available to help CAOs survey their municipality to identify and confirm priorities quickly, accurately and affordably. Starting at $10,000 the Citizen Satisfaction IQTM platform gathers accurate local data about residents’ priorities. 

Funding reductions and uncertainties are among the reasons municipalities need affordable, reliable, fast market research.  The capacity to set priorities and respond quickly with a data-informed plan is an asset in uncertain times. Affordability is an asset at any time, freeing up financial resources for those very priorities.

Similarly, the Tax Sensitivity CalculatorTM is a platform that affords a valuable inside view  into what residents are willing to pay for. CAOs can use the data collected in an actionable report to help inform Council budget decisions, knowing exactly what residents will be in alignment with. With a cost-effective platform to streamline processes, municipalities save money and time, and avoid unnecessary discussions  local priorities.

Both these platforms were scientifically designed to provide accurate, local market research. Priorities are different in a northern municipality, so choosing a tool that methodically gathers data applicable to a specific region is essential. 

Get the Roadmap on More Ways to Increase Citizen Satisfaction

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