We’ve talked before on a number of occasions about how crew retention is an issue which can affect shipping companies far and wide. From the biggest operators down to the small or medium sized shipowner or manning agency, attracting and then retaining qualified and competent seafarers is a recurring issue which doesn’t seem to go away.
There’s nothing more frustrating than going through the stages of finding, interviewing and hiring someone and thinking they're going to be a great addition to your candidate database, only for them to finish their contract, disembark from your vessel, head home for a period of rest...and then disappear never to be heard from again.
It’s annoying, it’s time consuming, and it’s costly as you now need to go back to square one, start the maritime recruitment process all over again and find a replacement for them.
If this all sounds too depressingly familiar, why do the seafarers that you’re hiring seemingly drop off the face of the earth and defect to one of your competitors once their contract is up?
One factor could well be for the same reasons that candidates ghost you during your maritime recruitment process: They just weren’t given enough reasons to feel any loyalty to your company.
Why asking for feedback can boost crew retention
But there are a whole range of reasons why your seafarers (and your employees who work in your shore based maritime jobs, for that matter) might not be 100% loyal to your shipping company or manning agency.
For seafarers, these could run from issues to do with the availability of WiFi onboard a vessel to things that are outside of your control such as having personal problems with other crew members while at sea.
Or perhaps they feel that they’re not valued and the hard work they do to ensure the safety of your vessel and cargo is unappreciated.
On the other hand, they may even really enjoy working for you but have realized they could get paid more for doing the same job for one of your competitors. After all, how many of us can say that we wouldn't be tempted by the promise of more money each month?
But the good news is, there are things you can do to increase the chances of your best seafarers sticking around and remaining on your candidate database for longer.
Communication is of huge importance and making sure you talk to your crew and employees will have a huge effect on both crew retention and shore based employee retention.
And if communication is important, then so too is listening to the people who work for you. Whether they’ve been employed by you for ten years and counting or they’re on their very first six month contract in one of your jobs at sea.
Listening is crucial from the moment your maritime recruitment process starts right through to the moment a seafarer disembarks from a vessel. And if you want to improve crew retention and line quality crew up for future contracts, you should make sure that the lines of communication are kept open while they’re on shore too.
Everyone likes their voice to be heard
From your youngest deck cadet who is fresh out of maritime academy to the experienced ship’s master who has been on your candidate database for the best part of a decade, everyone likes to feel they’re being listened to.
And as an employer it’s your job to make sure that happens - especially if you want to boost your crew and employee retention rates and earn a reputation as one of the best companies in the industry to work for.
So how do you actively listen to your seafarers and other employees?
One way to increase your contractor and employee retention rates is to ask for feedback from them. This is a good way to ensure that the people you hire and employ feel valued by you.
And that in turn will improve your retention rates by increasing the chances of shore based employees in your maritime jobs staying, and seafarers lining up their next contract with you and returning to your vessels.
Listening is good, acting on feedback is better
One thing to bear in mind is that you can ask for and listen to feedback all you want. But - and it’s a big but - you must ensure that you act upon it, if it is at all sensible and viable to do so.
If you aren’t being seen to act on the feedback that you’ve proactively asked for, it’s only going to be a matter of time before your employees and seafarers notice that you’re only paying lip service to being a caring employer.
In their eyes it won’t just look like you’re being ineffectual or slow to act upon their suggestions or complaints. It will look like you’re ignoring them entirely. And if that’s the case you can probably kiss some of your candidate database goodbye.
If at all possible, give your crew member or employee a time-frame of when their suggestion could be implemented or their complaint resolved. And do your best to stick to it.
This will heighten their feelings of worth within the company and thus help to improve your chances of retaining their services.
How to ask crew and employees for feedback
The awesome thing about asking for feedback, listening to it, and then acting upon it is that it is one of the easier employee retention techniques to implement.
So what are some tried and trusted ways of getting your employees and your seafarers to tell you what they think about you?
It really doesn’t need to get any more complicated than asking senior members of your fleet’s crew to place a suggestion box onboard each of your vessels. All they need to do then is to encourage the rest of the crew to write their comments on a slip of paper and post them in the box.
To increase the chances of getting feedback you could also make the process anonymous.
Plus the exact same system could be used in your office(s) and in any other shore based locations too.
But if you want to take a more technology-based route, there are plenty of ways of streamlining the feedback process and bringing it bang up-to-date.
How technology can help you gather feedback
There are any number of HR type software programs and tools that you can use to build online questionnaires. You can even create surveys in Google quickly and easily and for free.
And if you have a Martide account, you can also do that using our platform too. Our Forms feature enables you to create a series of questions which can be used either as part of your interview process, or to get feedback from crew who have worked on one of your vessels.
Plus it's really easy and intuitive to create a Form:
- Log in to Martide
- Go to Forms
- Click the Create Form button
- Name your form
- Add your questions
Best of all, you can completely customize how you ask your questions thanks to our different formats. You can also use as many different formats as you like in one Form. For example:
- Paragraphs / text
- Multiple choice
- Checkboxes / tick boxes
- Linear scale - for example from 1 to 10
- Multiple choice grid
- Checkbox grid
You can read more about our Forms feature and see some images of it in action here on our Support website.
The outcome of asking for feedback
Whilst it’s true that acting upon feedback might come at a cost, financially speaking, the outcome is bound only to be positive.
That’s because as well as helping to improve your employee or crew retention rates, this will also give you valuable insight into life on board your vessels - and in your offices.
Knowing what your seafarers think and are concerned about will give you the opportunity to address problems and issues. Again this shows your crew that you are listening to them AND are making their life at sea more comfortable or convenient. It’s the classic domino effect!
What’s more, this also ties in very nicely with your contractor or employee referral program, if you have one.
That’s because when your crew and employees enjoy working with you and feel valued by you, they’ll be much more enthusiastic about recommending your shipping company as a great place to work to their friends and acquaintances.
Martide helps boost your crew retention rates
Small to medium sized shipowners and managers love Martide’s end to end software solution that makes maritime recruitment and crew management easier than ever before.
When you have a vacant position to fill, we’ll advertise it for you and we’ll also give you access to our candidate database of qualified seafarers.
You’ll be able to filter and search for seafarers who match your requirements then effortlessly manage your interviews and hiring processes - all in one centralized place.
Seafarers who have created accounts with Martide are encouraged to download our free mobile app which makes it much easier for you (and any of our audited and credited manning agents that you choose to work with) to stay in touch with them.
The entire maritime recruitment process is made far more streamlined for you, and much simpler for seafarers who are looking for jobs at sea.
And that means they’re more likely to stick with Martide, stay in our candidate database, and return to you once their shore leave is over.
Want to find out more? Get in touch with us and schedule your free no strings attached demo and we’ll show you how we’ll make your maritime recruitment process easier, streamline your crew management systems, and increase your crew retention rates