McKinsey and Company - Work Ready programme

The Employment for Excluded Groups Award, Finalist, 2016

People affected by homelessness are being helped into employment by the McKinsey & Company‘s Work Ready Programme. The training scheme builds skills and confidence in both the trainees and existing staff.

Good for society

  • The programme has had a positive impact on individual trainees and has resulted in them living more fulfilling, sustainable, lives focused on building independence rather than dependence.
  • For each homeless person who is helped to find work, the taxpayer saves £13,000 pa.

Good for business

  • Staff at McKinsey & Company developed new skills, such as empathy and communication, and staff engagement increased.
  • The programme nurtures the relationship between the firm, its clients and other organisations.


The Work Ready Programme is an intensive week-long scheme run by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which helps people who have experienced homelessness find work.

Finding and sustaining work is often an important part of leading an independent and fulfilled life. But if someone experiences homelessness, there will be several barriers to finding work which persist even after they have found somewhere to live.

People who have been affected by homelessness sometimes have to navigate issues including a lack of confidence or skills, criminal records, or long breaks in employment history before they can find and keep work. 

McKinsey has developed and delivered the Work Ready Programme with London-based homelessness organisation Thames Reach since 2013. In the first two years it operated across London but this year it has programmes planned in Manchester and Philadelphia.

In addition to the deep personal effects of homelessness and long-term unemployment, these cost society and the economy, locally and nationally.

So far 73 students have completed the Work Ready Programme and of these 17 found work as a direct result with a further 54 taking tangible steps towards employment, such as training, education of volunteering. 

McKinsey says its staff have developed specific new knowledge on homelessness and employment for excluded groups to inform the Work Ready Programme.  


McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm that serves leading businesses, governments, non-governmental organizations, and not-for-profits. The company is called in to help organisations run more smoothly, achieve a particular goal or make organisational changes.

Mckinsey is the lead on developing, delivering and continuing to grow the Work Ready Programme, in partnership with Thames Reach. Staff members from Mckinsey and from other businesses, and public sector bodies, volunteer their time and skills to the project; some act as ongoing mentors.

Making the business case

It’s estimated that it costs taxpayers £13,000, each year, to support each individual homeless person. Mckinsey says it costs them just £2,000 to get someone at risk of homelessness into work.

The Work Ready Programme enables businesses (including Mckinsey) to contribute to society at a local community level.  By scaling the programme through partnerships across the UK and internationally, the firm hopes to achieve social impact at a global level.  

Forging a true partnership

The relationship between Mckinsey and Thames Reach has been a true partnership with skills transferred in both directions.  Thames Reach brings deep experience of supporting people who have experienced homelessness across the full range of complex needs.  McKinsey is able to contribute knowledge of project management, strategy, education, employment, capability building and training.  The relationship is strong at every level from CEO to the working team.

A joint management structure has been drawn up between the two organisations and at the working level the delivery team is led by a dedicated programme coordinator who is embedded within the wider employment services team in Thames Reach. The delivery team meets at least weekly and is charged with delivering individual Work Ready Programmes.  

The leadership team consists of two senior Thames Reach managers and three from Mckinsey, The team meets monthly to oversee delivery of individual Work Ready Programmes and driver overall strategy to scale programme. 

What McKinsey & Company's Partner said:

“The Work Ready Programme is proving to be a powerful model, based on partnership; bringing together the public, private and third sectors to address one of society’s most challenging issues.  

We continue to see benefits in supporting the programme, which gives us an opportunity to work directly with vulnerable and excluded members of our community in a way that draws on individual and organisational skills and expertise, to build the confidence and the capabilities to help them get into work.  

And we are excited about scaling the Work Ready Programme with partner organisations across the UK and internationally.” - John Drew, Partner, McKinsey and Company