Responsible Business of the Year 2019: Sir Robert McAlpine

Finalist for Business in the Community’s Responsible Business of the Year 2019 

Sir Robert McAlpine: Stages acting productions to boost employee understanding of suicide 

  • ​55% calls to support line about mental health 
  • 700 staff taken part in workshops 
  • 79 mental health first aiders 

Sir Robert McAlpine, a family-owned construction business, has been involved in some of Britain’s most famous projects. The Olympic Stadium, the O2 Arena and the Eden Project all feature on the roster of building and civil engineering project that make up the company’s 150-year history. 

With 1,600 staff across the UK, its commitment to the highest standards of safety, quality, engineering excellence and sustainability still stands. But it believes that being inclusive, and nurturing a diversity of talent and skills, will help the business to continue its rich legacy of exciting projects in Britain. 

With suicides among male construction workers higher than in any other industry1, Sir Robert McAlpine has been focused on giving the mental health and safety of staff as high a profile as their physical health and safety. 

“With at least one in four of us experiencing common mental health problems at some point in our lives, mental health is an issue that affects family, friends and colleagues. Given this, it is critical that we as a business continue to proactively invest in new initiatives to help raise awareness and break down any social stigma.” 

​Paul Hamer, Chief Executive, Sir Robert McAlpine 

To raise awareness of mental health in the workplace, it has been working with Acting Out Productions to create live drama-based interactive workshops. By staging real-life stories to address the realities of mental ill health and stress, staff can better understand what it means for them and their colleagues, ask questions and start conversations. So far, 700 employees, from managers to operatives, have attended the workshops. 

The production highlights how mental health problems can deepen, sometimes into crisis, if unrecognised or unaddressed.  

The company now has 79 mental health first aiders who can act as an initial point of contact and provide early intervention. And the sessions with Acting Out have generated an increase in the level of calls into the company’s Employee Assistance Scheme for Mental Health support, with more than 55% of calls relating to the topic.  

“Our people are the driving force of the business and we are committed to leading the way when it comes to the wellbeing of our employees,” says Karen Brookes, Director of People and Infrastructure at Sir Robert McAlpine. 


  1. The Guardian. Male construction workers at greatest risk of suicide, study finds. Available at 

Unless otherwise stated, the information in this impact story has been supplied by Sir Robert McAlpine.

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