Happiness matters – ignore it at your peril
Shipping companies that do not put crew happiness first risk losing them at their own peril.
Steven Jones, Seafarer Happiness Index, Project Head, Mission to Seafarers, believes that happiness matters most.
Seafarers were once proud to work at sea, but according to Jones, there are serious signs of this being eroded. It cannot be ignored.
Jones sees evidence of seafarers becoming less happy in their jobs, largely because of the focus on socioeconomic and geopolitical macro issues.
“Thinking small is what constraints results”, says Jones.
There is a serious lack of focus at the micro level on the simple things that keep not just seafarers, but any employees, happy.
He believes that happiness provides the foundation to work well and embrace challenges and it gives seafarers the opportunity to excel. But at the moment there are a lot of seafarers that still feel disconnected from the outside world. This sort of isolation leaves them feeling disengaged and unhappy, ultimately resulting in their exit from a company.
To tackle this as an industry we need to ask questions to find out how happy seafarers are.
“This shows us where we’re winning and losing in the industry”.
Dick Welsh, Director, Isle of Man Ship Registry, believes that one of the most important things that can be done is to change the way seafarers are trained so that they remain interested and engaged and ready to tackle the challenges of the future.
As ships become increasingly digitalised, using the latest IT and satellite navigation systems, and report different to how they did previously, training programmes need to ensure they incorporate these new ways into them.
“It would not take huge steps to make training better”
Welsh believes that training needs to be multidisciplinary and focus on making crews tech savvy so they will be capable of operating the ships of tomorrow. Investing in crew members this way is vital to showing them they are an asset and not a cost to keep them happy, satisfied and keep those retention rates, says Welsh.
Jeff Johnson is General Manager, Manning, BP Maritime Services, says that his company allows daily free phone calls home for each crew member and deploys dedicated catering superintendents to monitor food quality.
He agrees with Jones that even small changes such as food and phone calls make seafarers’ lives so much better, increasing their happiness and overall retention rates.