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What seafarers want? from Employers

Dear All,

As per the studies made by various organisation there is an acute shortage of seafarers against the seafarers required to man the vessels around the world. This is a very important information where because of the shortage, the selection criteria are being diluted or ignored for selecting seafarers to join the ships. Also the entry requirements, certification requirements are also being continually diluted in order to pull in more and more incumbents into the world’s shipping industry. With negative reputation of the seafaring situation being flashed in media because of the Covid-19, the situation may get worsened. Even if we get the numbers, the quality will seriously be lacking!

At this juncture, it becomes very important to recruit competent crew and hold on to them which holds the key to cost reduction and maximising profits in the long run.

As a seafarer, what am I looking in my employer for me to continue working with them? I have listed out 10 items which any seafarer would be looking in an employer.

1) Salary: For obvious reasons this is always on top of any seafarer related requirements. And why not, he/she has the right to a get the best deal for him like all the other professions. So, offer the maximum salary you could afford as per the seafarer’s qualification and experience and just don’t propose a lesser salary so that your bottom line can be lowered. Nowadays the seafarers are very social and they exactly know what you are paying others and what is the market standards. Hence you may lose the seafarer to another company.

Note to Employers-Good seafarers like the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris always seem to be beyond our budget. Hence I feel we should settle for the next better rather than pushing the Ferraris.

2) Salaries on time: This is a very important aspect of seafarer’s expectation as he/she has planned his expenditures based on the regular salaries he/she will get. The present seafarers are very calculative and start buying homes and other big ticket items sooner in life and hence their EMIs also start almost with their career. Hence even 1 or 2 months’ salary delay affects their regular rotation of funds.

Note to employers: If there is a salary delay expected, please inform the seafarer beforehand. He/she can decide whether they would want to take the option. As per MLC seafarers are required to paid on a monthly basis.

3) On time sign on and off the ship: This is the biggest relationship changer, however high salaries you might be paying, if you do not sign off the seafarer on time, seafarer’s family start asking him/her when is he returning and if he is unable to give a fairly good idea, it puts him in a tight spot. Also the sign on also is equally important and the seafarers feels if he has given his readiness he has to fly within a week or at least the process should start and be visible, otherwise he might be looking at other companies who are already distracting him/her.

Note to Employers: the office staff who are in direct touch with the seafarers should provide them the exact picture. If you do not have a date say so, it might be better than giving him/her a false hope, then he/she packs his and does not unpack and stands at the gangway.

4) Career progression: Most of the younger generation of seafarers look for faster promotions and look for the path ahead with company they are serving, if the company can give him/her continuous employment and promotion prospects not only at sea but into the office also, so please have a clear cut process in place for promotion so that you don’t lose competent seafarers.

Note to Employers: Even though the seafarers look for faster promotions, obviously you cannot give them without a proper assessment. However, what is important is that, the seafarers should always be aware of what is his competence and when he/she will get promoted. So please have a clear plan of various milestone and after a certain milestone he gets promoted. This gives the seafarer the confidence and increases the possibility to stay with you.

5) Transparency: the importance of this cannot be emphasised enough to put it simply. This gives the seafarer belief in the organisation and tends to stick to the company longer even if the salary is not the highest in the market. This has such a power for the seafarers to let go of Dollars. With the amount of information available in the internet and social media, it is better seafarers exactly knows how you work and what policies, rules and regulation you follow in all dealing with the seafarers.

Note to employers: having an open book system means, you need to give the seafarer all information necessary for him to perform his duties well and respect the organisation. However, there can be some aspects which needs to be confidential which you can tell the seafarers that you cannot discuss or show and as that is confidential.

6) Integrity: You meet feel transparency and integrity have some overlapping, but it’s not. Transparency is showing the seafarer what you do and how you do and integrity is doing the right things. Please don’t hide which should be known to the seafarers and show what he/she should not see in order to manipulate him. May be one contract you can get him to join you, but you have lost him for good after that.

Note to Employers: Simply put Say what you do and do what you say as our ISM code says. This will take care of the integrity issues. don’t try to make an undue profit out of the seafarer joining, even for other parties as still affect his view towards you.

7) Fairness: Even though this resembles being same as integrity, this a subtle change in that, when you have a case where the decision can be both sides, please be considerate towards the seafarer’s side. These need not big things. Small things matter more!

Note to employers: Please be considerate in taking decisions on deductions on various reasons, like family carriage, sign off prior completion of contract etc. This will help, you gain respect in the seafarer.

8) Curtesy- simply put, be polite, even to junior officers and ratings. They are going to be your future senior officer and grooming them in correct way is important. The office staff who directly deal with the especially the junior officers and ratings should not treat as if the company is doing a favour on them. Company cadets thing their company is the best cause they took him 1st, hence please maintain the respect.

Note to Employers: there are many seafarers who leave their companies just because they were not treated well. It’s a very cheap investment for seafarer retention. Please use it well

9) Importance-This is related to the above point where if you are courteous, the seafarer will feel important, which is very necessary for any seafarer staying with you longer. The Basic human need is to feel important and wanted. Give him/her that.

Note to employers: Talk to the seafarers sometimes about something about his personal life, his likes and dislikes, away from joining, sign off, training and promotion. Train the office staff to do this well.

10) Recognition: Another way to make the seafarer feel important, show to the world that the seafarer is important to you, highlight his/her achievement, put up his photo in company’s newsletter.

Note to employers: Please do it form the heart, if you are faking, he/she will know. It has to be in the company’s culture. Printing his name in the newsletter and not talking to be courteously takes out the punch of your action.

To summarize seafarers are mostly very straight forward people having very predictable requirements like all other human beings. They can be kept happy by doing other things as well apart from paying high salaries.

I have tried to cover almost all points on what seafarers might want from an employer. If you don’t agree with any point or feel I have missed any important point, please do comment.

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