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 Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) report addresses ten key questions that provide insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by seafarers.
The survey, which measures seafarers’ opinions worldwide on a variety of welfare issues, shows a decrease from 7.69 to 7.1 out of 10 compared to Q4 2022.
In fact, nine out of ten areas surveyed showed a drop in happiness levels. Despite an optimistic outlook for improvements in seafarers’ welfare in 2023, the latest report shows that those expectations have not yet been met. As always, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
challenges for seafarers
Data for the first quarter of 2023 shows a decline in seafarer satisfaction on all issues except connectivity. However, despite the increased satisfaction, seafarers still reported connectivity issues at sea with various companies, as well as concerns about data volumes, internet speeds and connectivity limitations, the report shows.
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 catering, 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.
Despite the challenges, seafarers recognize the importance of positive onboard interactions for their well-being and job satisfaction. However, a lack of onboard entertainment makes it difficult for them to find a reason to get together. Therefore, there is a need for improved social activities and shared spaces to encourage crew members to interact, the report said.
“We have seen seafarer satisfaction grow steadily throughout 2022 and this has continued into the fourth quarter with a high of 7.69/10. Unfortunately, this positive trend ended in the first quarter of this year as satisfaction has fallen almost everywhere. This shows how important it is to keep seafarers’ welfare alive and why there can be no complacency about the conditions in which our seafarers find themselves.” Rev. Canon Andrew Wright, said the Secretary General of the Mission to Seafarers.
“The decline in the Seafarers’ Happiness Index in the first quarter of 2023 is a worrying sign after steady increases over the past year and we will be watching the second quarter results with interest to see if this is the start of a downtrend. Hopefully not! It is very frustrating to hear about ongoing issues with lack of shore leave and delayed permitting processes.” Thomas Herbert, Idwal Senior Marine Surveyor and Crew Welfare Advocate said.
“Moving out of the pandemic does not make the lack of shore leave any less of a concern and we need to keep that in mind to ensure it improves. I was particularly interested in hearing about the challenges related to onboard meals, food budgets and quality, etc. As a former seaman, I know how important good nutrition and good food are to keep you healthy and motivated. Good shared mealtimes can also make a big contribution to the culture and camaraderie on board. Finding the right food for people is fundamental and we should do better.”
During last week’s Singapore Maritime Week 2023, The Mission to Seafarers, NorthStandard, Idwal, Inmarsat and Seafarers Happiness Index founder Steven Jones came together for an executive roundtable on crew wellbeing to explore an approach to improving wellbeing to be developed by seafarers.
It was agreed that shipowners, managers and charterers would use data and insights from the Seafarers Happiness Index and Idwal onboard insights to identify actions and approaches that can lead the industry to a solution-focused approach.
The group is dedicated to accelerating the maritime industry from compliance to excellence by prioritizing the well-being of crew members and ensuring they are part of the equation for commercial success.