Q1 2020 – Too much work, Too few people

The latest Seafarers Happiness Report is a special focus on the impact of COVID-19 on seafarers. We did ask our usual set of questions…and here we find out the answer to the enquiry about…How happy with your work load?

  • 5.69 down from 5.89

There seems to be a growing sense of too much work, and not enough time or people. This is perhaps exacerbated as many seafarers are having to stay onboard for longer than their normal contracts owning to COVID-19 restrictions on movement. This is highlighting the problems of sustained pressures of high workload.

Comments were received such as, “too much paperwork and no time for social life, a hectic schedule without proper shore leave”. Even well-known and respected companies were criticised for having, “less crew and too much physical work to do”.

The issue of workload onboard is seen as a reflection of the management ashore, and there were numerous criticisms about the way in which work and expectations are managed. Respondents said, the “quality of management support is going down day-by-day, with more performance pressure and less manpower”.

Others felt that management ashore all too often push for work to be completed in “unrealistic time scales”, and they “forget that this is ship”. There was also a sense of detachment between the ship and shore, “They have a lot of excel sheet and other problems which need to be sent, management think that their crew are robots, that do not get tired”.

“Too much pressure from the administration/company/owners etc leads to poor environment on the vessel”. There were repeated comments around the crewing levels relating to the amount of work to be completed. “Too much workload with little crew”, “Companies are not thinking of crew onboard or how they are balancing work and rest hours”.

One of the other issues is the actual demands, and often seafarers felt that so much of the paperwork generated is “useless”, and so it becomes a double problem not only the fact that there is so much work, but a perception that much of it is meaningless. Being exhausted by things which you do not believe matter is a huge drain, and seafarers seem to be dealing with that constantly.

Cutting of manpower, increasing paperwork, constant unrealistic demands from shore management, uncaring regimes onboard, all these add up to a workload tsunami which seafarers feel are swamping them daily.

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