Human service nonprofit leaders seek ways to recruit and retain talent
In a fall 2021 survey conducted by the National Council of Nonprofits, 76% of 1,000 nonprofits surveyed in the United States reported vacancies above 10%. Sixteen percent said almost a third of their jobs were vacant.
Michigan’s social service agencies are seeing the same thing, struggling to fill jobs ranging from entry-level positions in Head Start classrooms to warehouse jobs at food banks, frontline staff at homeless shelters home and hospital caregivers.
In southeast Michigan, many social service agencies are reporting vacancies of around 15%.
Those with large government contracts funding the services they provide, such as Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and Starfish Family Services, fare somewhat better but still face shortages, the imperative to compete for all talent levels and the need to find more funding.
For some, it’s a matter of survival: The Children’s Center, a provider of behavioral health, foster care and adoption services for children, is experiencing one of the biggest shortages, leaving more than a third of its 85 clinical positions – including some supervisory roles – vacant, said President and CEO Debora Matthews. Nonprofits offering before- and after-school student programs have required student-to-staff ratios, said Helene Weir, CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit.
“If we don’t have the appropriate number of staff at one (site), we can’t accept more young people into the program,” she said. “We have waiting lists at almost all of our sites.”
About half of direct care workforce positions in health care go unfilled, said Amber Slichta, vice president of programs and learning for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, which focuses on grants in the caregiver space among its focus areas. . This includes care aides in hospitals, nursing homes and home care agencies, which have seen longer waiting lists for people discharged from hospital, people confined to their homes and for those whose existing caregivers need a break.
There was a shortage of caregivers before the pandemic, and COVID has only made it worse as people decide they are no longer comfortable working in healthcare, Slichta said. Shortages can lead to delayed surgeries, errors and burnout.
In 2019, the Wilson Foundation invested $15 million in a three-year pilot program to better support and retain entry-level caregivers in health systems in Southeast Michigan, Western New York, and Cleveland. .
“Without continuing to work on this very complicated and difficult problem… people are going to miss the care they need, and workers in these positions cannot find ways to get off this difficult treadmill of understaffing,” Slichta said.