Life on a cargo ship can be demanding. That's not a trade secret and you'd be hard pushed to find many seafarers, or shipowners or ship managers who would disagree. But that doesn't mean it can't be a happy life.
Seafarer wellness needs to be a priority for all maritime industry leaders. For one thing, maintaining - or improving - health and wellbeing for your seamen not only improves productivity and morale, but also makes it more likely that your crew members will line up future contracts and be loyal to your shipping company.
Working in seafarer jobs on board a ship usually means being away from home for months at a time. Of course, this is part and parcel of working in jobs at sea and a choice made by anyone who joins a crew.
But it is precisely this lack of connectivity while on board that can lead to issues of discontent and disloyalty.
Life on a cargo ship and improving seafarer happiness
There are many ways to improve seafarer wellness and arguably, much of this needs to come from the individual crew members themselves while they're onboard.
However, as a shipowner or manager, there are things that you can do too to improve a seafarer's happiness.
This can include leading from the top to inspire a great company culture. Praising staff (and yes that includes contracted seafarers) for a job well done is just one simple way of creating a better working environment.
And although it may be a slightly contentious issue, one of the most recent changes in the maritime industry that has resulted in improved crew wellness is technology.
Put simply, access to an internet connection provides a serious boost in a crew member's welfare, as this gives them access to the shore - and their family, friends and loved ones - while they're away at sea.
Staying connected with family
This is one area that many seafarers struggle with while being on a ship for a long period of time.
Crew isolation is a serious risk as members that feel isolated during their life on a cargo ship can have lower morale and that has a knock-on effect on their productivity, and therefore potentially the efficiency and even the safety of your vessel.
Internet access is generally provided on ships but can have limited reach and often comes at a cost to access.
Many studies would indicate that this is not only unfair to anyone working in seafarer jobs, but is also at the detriment of the employer. An engine cadet named Zypert Barcelo highlights the issue using his experience as an example.
Staying connected with companies
Connectivity while at sea isn't just a useful tool for connecting with families and providing entertainment once a seafarer has finished their shift or watch. It is also crucial in helping seamen deal with any problems or concerns that arise during their time onboard in the correct manner.
For example, if a seafarer is alienated, without an internet connection and unable to access their messages once he or she is on a voyage, they are therefore not able to contact the manning agent, recruiter or shipping company they dealt with during the hiring process. That makes it virtually impossible to discuss any issues.
Having an outlet to the outside world while at sea allows for crew members to feel more comfortable while on board.
Plus, without an internet connection, a seaman is unable to line up their next contract until they're back on land.
By providing connectivity, not only will you make it easier for them to find their next seafarer jobs, but you'll also be doing yourself a favor by lining up crew in good time for your change over dates!
Training in the maritime industry
Access to proper training is another way to increase a seafarer's happiness and wellbeing. Indeed, the up and coming generation of seafarers practically demand it! The Millennials, and Generation Z who follow them, are very concerned about career progression - across all sectors.
Not only that but your health and safety initiatives will be improved upon when your crew members have the best possible training.
Consistency in training can be achieved through innovative technologies such as eTraining. There are companies out there who offer eTraining for crew members so that they can remain knowledgeable in changing technologies on board and stay safe in the event that any mishaps occur.
Crew members perform better when they are kept safe and healthy both physically and mentally.
Is life on a cargo ship improving for seafarers?
The good news is that according to the latest data from the Seafarers Happiness Index, things are looking positive.
For the uninitiated, the Seafarers Happiness Index was founded in 2015 as a yardstick by which seafarer satisfaction can be monitored. The index is a survey which asks 10 key questions on a number of issues that affect anyone living life on a cargo ship.
These range from questions about a seafarer's mental health, their work and life onboard, and the contact they have with their family.
The latest Q3 2019 seafarers happiness score was 6.59/10 - an increase from 6.27/10 in Q2.
These stats show that while things are on the up, there is still work to be done.
How technology can help improve life on a cargo ship
Technology is helping to improve crew wellness through multiple channels, whether it's providing entertainment onboard, social interaction with the shore, or by training to keep crew members knowledgeable in order to stay safe.
Any contributors to crew member wellness should be embraced wholeheartedly by leading organizations in the maritime industry.
How can Martide help your shipping company?
At Martide we use technology to help shipping companies run a more efficient business. Our Software as a Service is an all-encompassing recruitment and crew management solution which takes care of the hiring process from A-Z.
Need an applicant tracking system? We have you covered. Want to outsource your recruitment efforts to manning agents? We can help. Would you like access to a global talent pool of qualified seafarers? Yep - that too!
Get in touch with to us today and let us show you how technology and Martide can make YOUR life in the maritime industry happier!