The Mission to Seafarers has released the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report for the first quarter of 2023, showing a decline in overall happiness among seafarers over the first three months of the year. The survey, which measures seafarers’ opinions worldwide on a wide range of welfare issues, shows a decrease from 7.69 to 7.1 out of 10 compared to Q4 2022.
Shore leave and the desire to access welfare benefits ashore again came to the fore as key problem areas. Seafarers also reported growing frustration with owners trying to get seafarers to check-in longer than they wished, and the delays in check-out procedures. In addition, the challenges of managing extended periods on board were reportedly compounded by inadequate food supplies, bureaucratic and unnecessary paperwork requirements, ineffective onboard leadership and a sense of social isolation that adds to the stress of life onboard.
The SHI report also identified several other challenges facing seafarers, including a growing wellness gap between companies that offer health and wellbeing programs and those that don’t, access to dental care in some ports but not in others, and limited access to psychological support, medical counseling services, and physical well-being counseling. Seafarers also raised concerns about salaries, the cost of living and potential barriers to career advancement.
Thom Herbert, Senior Marine Surveyor and Crew Wellbeing Advocate at survey sponsor Idwal, commented: “The decline in the Seafarers’ Happiness Index in the first quarter of 2023 is a worrying sign after last year’s steady rise and we will review the results of the second Keep an eye on the quarter interesting to see if this is the start of a downtrend.”
Herbet said it was “very frustrating” to hear about ongoing issues with a lack of shore leave and delayed de-registration procedures.
Where shipping goes right and wrong when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent made for a lively staff session at the Maritime CEO Forum at Singapore’s Fullerton Hotel last week.
Mark O’Neil, president of Columbia Shipmanagement, said shipping needs to adopt “proper” human resources management.
“We talk about crew and human resources departments but that’s antiquated,” the ship manager said, urging the industry to better identify with the crew, which had improved with Covid.
Better communication and detailed, encouraging career planning were seen as crucial by O’Neill. Crew salaries and packages would need to be revised, O’Neil said, noting how many seafarers have no pension schemes or health insurance.