Seafarers travel the vast oceans across the globe for months on end. They move across continents and time zones. It can seem like a fairy tale, but it’s not.
Seafarers spend most of their life away from their loved ones and communities. They are engaged in very hard work throughout their tenure on a ship. It leaves little to no room for socializing.
Shipping companies are noting the effects of this isolation and lack of social activities on their mental health and performance. They have come up with crew engagement programs that are dedicated to addressing this issue.
Let us dig a little deeper into this and see what we can find.
Why Does Crew Engagement Matter?
A ship’s crew is as essential to the ship as air is to breathe. They are the lifeblood of maritime operations. The quality of their work keeps the ship safe. Their expertise, dedication, and teamwork are what keep the ship afloat.
The adverse effects of isolation catch up quickly. Especially in an environment like the ship, where the number of people is less and work more. Everyone, from captains, officers, deckhands, engineers, and cooks, faces the tyranny of being left alone for prolonged periods.
It is important to address this issue as it can have very serious consequences.
Here is why crew engagement is a critical issue.
It is no mystery that an engaged employee is a more productive employee. A person who has their social needs met, feels valued, and has a sense of belonging will naturally work more sincerely. This means that the organization benefits too. A productive employee adds to the value of the company. A company with highly productive workers is likely to be more successful.
A disgruntled employee is more likely a product of the environment. They may be stifled, isolated, and burned out. Such an employee is less likely to continue their work in the same company. The lack of support and connection to peers and managers also poses a problem.
Workers who work on a contractual basis are at a higher risk of feeling isolated.
All of these reasons can lead to workers leaving the company for better offers. Such a situation causes losses for the company as they have to invest in training and inducting a new employee. The recruitment costs will also go up over time.
Low Morale Crew
Lack of engagement can result in lowered morale among the crew. It has a domino effect on the entire team as well. The crew can show a negative attitude, lack of cooperation, and be unwilling to support their colleagues. There can be lowered team efforts.
This can result in a lack of effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving aboard the ship. It can also lead to conflicts. Overall, it will affect the efficiency and smooth functioning of the ship.
Loss of Work Quality
An unhappy or disengaged crew is likely to show a dip in work quality. They may not be focused on work. They are likely to make more errors and show overall poor performance.
This lack of motivation to excel can stem directly from the lack of engagement. Lowered social interaction and rewarding situations can also be the cause. Such a dip in quality can affect the overall ship safety.
Strategies for Effective Crew Engagement
The maritime industry is a challenging one. Seafarers have unique working conditions. They are more prone to feeling isolated and experiencing the consequences of a lack of engagement.
A highly engaged crew enhances productivity and cultivates a positive work culture. They also add value to the organization.
Here are some strategies you can use that are effective in crew engagement.
Reaching out to your employees with a personal touch is a powerful strategy. It fosters a sense of connection and appreciation. The company can send personal messages and greetings, birthday wishes, and on wishes on special occasions. These gestures show that the organization cares about the employee and takes an interest in their well-being.
The employee may have special achievements in the course of their work. Such milestones can be celebrated. It is a thoughtful approach to showing that you appreciate their efforts. This is a reward in itself, which also creates a meaningful connection.
The crew is likely to be more satisfied when shown such gestures.
Regular Meet-ups and Events
Seafarers spend most of their work time onboard. They may be working with people from different countries across the globe. A friendship or official set-up outside of the ship is not always a reality for seafarers. This can contribute to a sense of alienation.
Setting up meetings is a great way to bring seafarers together and build camaraderie. Social gatherings that happen annually or twice a year can bring together people who have worked together. These meetings can include social activities. It helps build strong friendships and a sense of community among seafarers.
Sharing News and Information
A seafarer would be cut off from the shore office and others on shore for months on end. They could miss out on what is happening in the company and among peers. The seafarer also misses out on other sailors placed on different ships. Communications to the shore are limited. Hence they could lose out on news that matters to them.
Having newsletters and other regular communications is a great way to keep them in the loop. It may be internal newsletters regarding updates on company matters. It can also include updates about company policies, industry developments, safety protocols, etc. This way, the employee will feel connected and valued.
Training and Competence Management
One of the greatest ways to engage an employee is to provide them with opportunities for growth and development. There are a lot of training programs for seafarers. Organizations can recognize skill gaps and provide the right learning opportunity to the employee. This way, the employee can grow their professionally.
Investing in the employee’s professional growth gives the employee a sense of being valued. They are also more likely to continue working in the same company if it opens opportunities for professional growth. They will also become more competent and skilled. With better confidence, they can contribute better to the company. It also raises morale and work efficiency on the whole.
Mental Health Support
The prolonged time on the sea and long working hours can take a toll on seafarers’ mental health. They may find themselves without anyone to share their problems with. The mental strain seafarers have is a significant issue to be addressed.
Providing mental health support to seafarers is a great initiative. We live in a time that is recognizing the importance of mental health. Organizations are slowly implementing measures to account for the mental health of seafarers. These may be through software that enables communication with mental health experts. It can be counseling sessions that give the employee a safe space to open up. They can share their concerns, seek guidance and get emotional assistance. This fosters a culture of openness and support.
Using software or third-party assistance to get employees mental health support means that you can get early intervention in case of mental health issues. Overall, this action leads to improving the crew’s well-being, reduced burnout, and better job satisfaction.
How Shipmate Facilitates Crew Engagement
The maritime industry recognises the need for effective crew engagement and actively implements measures. Its contribution to the safety and success of operations is hard to ignore.
Shipmate by SBN Technologics has been at the forefront of innovation. Its robust ship management software has provisions that aid in crew engagement. In this section, let us look at how Shipmate facilitates crew engagement.
Shipmate’s innovative greeting services offer a personalized approach to connecting with seafarers. The platform allows maritime organizations to send custom greetings to crew members. It may be for birthdays, special occasions, or simply to express appreciation for their hard work and dedication. It can also be a greeting to employees off-duty.
These go beyond traditional corporate communications. It is going that extra mile to resonate on a more personal level. It makes seafarers feel valued and recognized for their contributions.
This emotional connection creates a positive work environment where crew members feel appreciated and motivated to give their best on board. Shipmates’ greeting services play a significant role in building a strong sense of camaraderie.
Shipmate’s competence management feature is a game-changer for crew members and organizations. This module helps in centralizing and streamlining seafarers’ competencies and certifications. This way, crew members have easy access to their competency records and certifications.
The platform ensures that their skills and expertise are effectively managed and recognized.
The organization can look into skill gaps, identify the potential of an employee, and recommend the most suitable training for that person. The organization can invest in current employees for promotions rather than external hiring.
With Shipmate software, the organization benefits in terms of efficient workforce planning. It also empowers seafarers to feel valued for their unique abilities and qualifications.
Shipmate’s platform provides seafarers with a gateway to a world of training resources and programs. Maritime organizations promote continuous learning and professional growth among their crew members by offering easy access to a wide array of training opportunities. It could be maritime safety courses, leadership development programs, or specialized skill training. Shipmate ensures that seafarers have the tools and support they need to enhance their knowledge and capabilities.
Encouraging crew members to engage in training opportunities benefits their career advancement. It also contributes to the overall success of the organization. A well-trained and knowledgeable person improves safety and operational efficiency. The organization can stay ahead and adapt to industry advancements.
The Seafarer Portal is a module designed to keep the seafarer connected and engaged like never before. It is accessible from mobile phones and works offline as well. This portal allows seafarers to keep their personal information updated with essential documents. It allows the seafarer to manage their travel plans, keep tabs on expenses, and stay in the loop with activity logs and employment notes. This user-friendly platform empowers seafarers to focus on core responsibilities while efficiently managing administrative tasks.
Another important feature of the seafarer portal is the training request management. Training and development are part of the growth of a seafarer’s career. With this feature, the office can directly communicate with the employee. This way, there is effective communication, and the employee’s training needs are promptly met.
Seafarers can take control of their administrative tasks and improve their communications with the office. The seafarer portal is a great tool for engagement as the employee stays connected and informed.
In a Nutshell
The maritime industry has a unique work environment that poses unique challenges to its employees. Crew engagement is a critical factor that influences its crew’s success, safety, and well-being. It directly benefits the organization too.
Shipmate recognizes the need to provide crew engagement. We have an integrated module that focuses on carrying it out. We offer features like personalized greetings, competence management, training opportunities, and integration with the Seafarer Portal. We aim to connect seafarers to their maritime community and help them excel in their roles.
By embracing Shipmate’s innovative solutions, maritime organizations can cultivate a culture of appreciation, continuous learning, and support.