Make Seafaring Better

Measuring how happy people are with the various elements of their working life at sea gives the shipping industry a picture of the real successes, problems and guidance as to where improvements are needed.

The Seafarer Happiness Index is based in part on the “Hierarchy of needs”, the theory of motivations which drive people. So, the questions address those areas, and of what it means to be a seafarer.

From the basic building blocks of biology and physiology, those absolutes of air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep. We climb the pyramid, looking at safety and rules, and of how these are delivered. Through to issues such as belonging and links to home, as well as what it means to be a seafarer. Are people proud to work at sea, or has that pride been eroded? With the top of the seafarer needs pyramid, delivering personal potential, self-fulfillment, growth and peak experiences. That is seafaring on a very good day indeed.

Ok, admittedly we frame the index in a positive sense, looking at happiness, not misery. Lest we forget though, on the flip side, where things are not delivered and where the human and professional needs of seafarer are not being met – well here we are likely to see stress, anger, upset, resentment and a gradual decline in mental health and wellbeing. In this zone, seafarers will leave the company, perhaps the industry. And can we blame them?

But back to the positives for a moment. By finding out how happy seafarers are, then we can build a picture of the industry and of where we are winning and losing. So, The Mission to Seafarers has taken over the Seafarer Happiness Index because happiness is the foundation on which everything is built.

In earlier reports, the Seafarer Happiness Index has revealed fascinating trends and early warning signs. Crews have spoken of not only the erosion of shoreleave, but the fact they have begun to dread port calls altogether. Another fascinating trend was the slashing of feeding rates and of budgets for spares.

If seafarers are not being allowed ashore, or actually cannot even be bothered with the hassle, then it points at wider problems. So, to the reports on poor quality food or of ever smaller portions being served, or that vessels are not carrying enough spares, or are being tempted to use non-Original parts.

Getting to see how seafarers feel, and exploring their dissatisfaction about these key facets of life at sea, means that shipping companies have a chance to learn from the mistakes of others. They do not have to wait until an accident, death or the loss of crews to competitors, they can see where things are going wrong and readjust their business course.

Making adjustments to make people happy means heading off problems, it means making life better…and it means delivering a massive boost for seafarer retention. Happiness matters, ignore it at your peril.

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