Why is the United Way conducting a Homeless Sector Workforce Analysis?
Los Angeles cannot make progress on homelessness without a capable and adequate workforce. Today, there are over 8,000 positions in the local homeless services sector, but it is a sector in crisis. Roughly 33% of those positions are vacant. The vast majority (82%) of those vacancies are in direct service/front line positions, which are critical to getting clients assessed, document ready, housed, and stabilized. The remaining vacancies are in administration and management positions which are critical to guiding this complex system through an unprecedented period of resource expansion.
Since our inception in 2010, the Home For Good initiative has been rooted in an understanding that it will take a unified, collective effort—of every individual, community, and organization—and an unwavering commitment to our values to end homelessness in L.A. County. That commitment includes a continuous investment in the evolving capacity needs of the homeless sector workforce, and our values demand those investments be person-centered, equitable, ethical, and scalable. To that end, we are partnering with KPMG to deepen our collective understanding of the workforce challenges in the homeless services sector and then using that understanding to make smarter, more impactful investments in the organizations and workforce that make homelessness rare, brief, non-recurring, and less dangerous.
How are we deepening our collective understanding?
Home for Good is partnering with KPMG to conduct a multi-faceted analysis of the homeless services sector in LA. This will be accomplished by scraping publicly-available data about hiring and workforce trends across more than 150 organizations, collecting workforce data from a representative sample of organizations in the sector, asking over 200 selected employees about the experiences they are having in the workforce through focus groups and electronic surveys. The goal of all this data collection is to have a better understanding the patterns, trends, and perceptions of culture, employee experience and the sector’s strongest value proposition.
General Data Collection
The KPMG team is scraping publicly available data about the local homeless sector from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, local area unemployment statistics, EMSI labor market modeling, and job posting data from organizations like LinkedIn to analyze historic migration trends and the workforce retention patterns. That data, along with KPMG’s proprietary Signals Repository database, is revealing key sector-wide hiring and retention patterns in the context of wider economic trends. In addition, 19 organizations in the sector submitted de-identified data about their workforce demographics, their current workforce, and the workforce they are planning for with the resources they’ve been provided to date. All participants were compensated for their time in focus groups, completing surveys, and/or submitting organizational data.
Overall, the KPMG team dialogued with stakeholders from 52 organizations in the sector and held focus group sessions to learn about their experiences, hopes, and concerns about the sector overall. These focus groups were segmented by experience and roles to understand how culture and experience differs across affinity groups.
Affinity Groups for Focus Groups:
Experience Based Stakeholders
- Senior Leaders
- BIPOC Leaders/ Leaders of BIPOC serving organizations
- New Hire Front Line Worker
- Tenure < 6 months
Role Based Stakeholders
- Case Managers
- Housing Navigators/ Outreach Coordinators
- Site Senior Leaders
- Counselors/Mental Health Specialists
- Support Staff/Operations
A 15-minute employee survey evaluates the viewpoints of employees and is designed to gather diverse worker sentiment on culture, employee experience, employer brand, employee value proposition, etc. Roughly 200 employees in 42 organizations completed an anonymous electronic survey. Employees answered questions about learning and development, inclusion and culture, expertise and experience, well-being, and retention.
All of this analysis has been consolidated into a Current State Assessment Report, which highlights the sector’s strengths and workforce challenges that are hindering the LA Homeless Sector’s ability to attract, retain, and develop talent.
Based on the analysis of the current state, KPMG also developed a prioritized matrix of Opportunities for Improvement for sector-wide and agency-level consideration. In the fall of 2022, HFG will leverage these materials to drive increased collective investments in the capacity of LA’s homeless sector workforce.
KPMG also created a tookit for providers which elevates the Voices of Employees in the homeless services sector. This toolkit includes 9 personas (listed below) and is helpful to understand common motivations, sentiments, unmet needs, insights, pain points, and key levers for attraction, retention, and growth in the sector for each role.
(1) BIPOC Leaders
(2) Site Senior Leaders
(3) Back Office Professionals
(4) Gen Z Candidates
(5) Mental Health Specialists
(6) Employees with Lived Expertise
(7) Program Managers
(8) Case Managers
(9) Outreach Coordinators/Specialists