Blog: People Development SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Phelan Construction

30 May 2019

Sponsored by Cheesmur Building Contractors

Phelan Construction

At Phelan, their motto is “pride, passion, people”, with people sitting at the heart of the organisation. They recognise that people are their greatest asset and regularly reward those who have gone above and beyond. This supportive approach is reflected in their 8.9/10 satisfaction rating from the 2018 staff satisfaction survey.

Phelan are addressing key issues faced in the wider industry. This includes:

  • Tackling the nationwide skills shortage for the construction industry and supporting the next generation of talented individuals by partnering with local training providers and sponsoring STEM-based courses. They also offer further training to existing staff to help develop their skills.
  • Launching a ‘Women in Construction’ campaign to address the social and cultural barriers affecting women working within the construction industry and to increase the ratio of women in their teams. Between April-June 2016, there were so few female workers in the industry that for many of the individual building trades, the government was unable to provide an exact estimate on numbers. Although they have always been an equal rights employer, Phelan recognise they can do more to encourage women into the construction industry.
  • Suicide kills more construction workers than falls. Given that nearly a third of construction workers have taken time off work due to mental health issues, they felt it was important to focus on providing effective mental health support to our staff.

The Phelan “three-tier training matrix” has helped the company move forward in its aspirations to support and train more staff, making significant progress since 2017. Last year, they completed 391 days of training, and this year they have booked 121 days of training in the first two months of the year – on track to significantly exceed last year's total.

Phelan’s sponsorship of both the COYO “Adopt a School” scheme and Colchester Institute’s conversion of their Clacton campus into a “Construction Skills Centre” shows commitment to bringing young people into the industry, and determination to help the local community (Clacton has a high unemployment rate). Phelan say their continued use of Colchester Institute graduates and apprentices shows commitment to the college’s success.

As part of the college sponsorship, they will be introducing more apprenticeship courses geared towards management-type roles - such as site management. Phelan has pledged to hold itself accountable with the number of apprentices it takes on with its membership to the 5% club.

Phelan is active in the community and wishes to continue its positive portrayal of the construction industry, as it did last year with:

  • Sponsorship of Colchester Institute and Clacton Coastal Academy
  • The conversion of Pot Kilns double-decker bus into a school library, free of charge
  • Paid for school children to attend the Phelan site at the Mercury Theatre while an archaeological Roman dig took place
  • Took part in, and sponsored, the Robin Cancer Trust superhero run
  • Sponsorship of the Alresford Colne Rangers Football Team

Phelan has adopted a caring company culture approach that proactively looks to develop and support its people. They continually strive to enrich employee experience by getting staff involved in community charity events, holding company social events in the calendar year, and engaging them in the Phelan Fine initiative. Their Phelan Medical Bus visits their sites periodically to offer free health checks, and they have a self-check health programme available too. They believe that once employees are content, relaxed and feeling good, only then can they expect people to want extra challenges, training and promotion opportunities. They recognise how important good mental health can be in playing a part in their people’s development.


  • Phelan Fine mental health initiative has already gained interest within the industry, with their SHEQT Director, Scott Manton, delivering a presentation about its importance at Hays head office in London
  • They are the only contractor of their size in East Anglia running a “Women in Construction” programme designed to encourage young girls into the construction industry and champion the women in their team to seek out promotions in the company.
  • They have sponsored both the COYO “Adopt a School” programme and the development of the Colchester Institute’s Construction Skills Centre to tackle the nationwide construction skills shortage problem within their region.

For more details:

Visit Phelan Construction

The SECBE 2019 People Development Award is sponsored by Cheesmur.

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