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Seafarer ‘Happiness’ Declines, Shipping Industry Urged to Prioritize Wellbeing

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5264
May 4, 2023

The first quarter of 2023 saw a decline in seafarers’ happiness levels, as reported by the latest Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) published by The Mission to Seafarers.

The study, supported by NorthStandard and Idwal, captured sentiments across a broad range of welfare issues and revealed a dip in overall happiness from 7.69 to 7.1 out of 10 compared to Q4 2022.

The survey found that seafarers’ satisfaction levels fell in nine out of ten surveyed areas. Key concerns included shore leave access, sign-on and sign-off procedures, inadequate food provisions, bureaucratic paperwork, ineffective leadership, and social isolation. Furthermore, disparities in health and well-being programs, dental care access, mental health support, and career advancement opportunities were also reported.

Despite the decline, seafarers acknowledged the importance of positive onboard interactions for their wellbeing and job satisfaction. However, a lack of entertainment options and shared spaces onboard ships has hindered their ability to engage in social activities.

Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, said the decline in the satisfaction of seafarers following steady improvements throughout 2022 illustrates the importance of maintaining momentum on seafarer welfare and addressing challenges collaboratively.

Thom Herbert, Idwal Senior Marine Surveyor and Crew Welfare Advocate, called for a focus on improving nutrition and meal quality to promote onboard culture and camaraderie.

“Moving out of the pandemic does not make lack of shore leave any less of an issue and we need to keep a spotlight on this to ensure it improves,” said Herbert.

“As a former seafarer, I know how important good nutrition and good food is to keep you healthy and motivated. Good meal times together can also go a long way to help the onboard culture and camaraderie. Getting food right for people is basic and we should be doing better,” Herbert added.

Captain Yves Vandenborn, Director of Loss Prevention at NorthStandard, urged companies to prioritize wellbeing aspects to improve job satisfaction, productivity, and retention among seafarers.

“Persistent frustrations with shore leave and challenges with extended periods on board appear to have had a negative impact on scoring as the pace of industry-wide improvement to these areas has been slow,” said Capt. Vandenborn.

During Singapore Maritime Week 2023, The Mission to Seafarers, NorthStandard, Idwal, Inmarsat, and SHI founder Steven Jones hosted an Executive Roundtable on Crew Welfare, aiming to develop a solutions-centered approach to seafarer well-being. The group seeks to accelerate the shipping industry’s transition from compliance to excellence by prioritizing crew welfare and creating real-world shipboard solutions that challenge the status quo.

The Mission to Seafarers hopes that by drawing attention to these challenges and fostering collaboration, the shipping industry can improve seafarer welfare and happiness, leading to a more sustainable, equitable, and humane industry for all stakeholders.

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