How to Boost Crew Retention with Tolerance & Diversity

Dec 16, 2019 · 9 mins read ·

Crew Management, Maritime Recruitment
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It’s no great secret that many shipping companies are struggling with employee and crew retention. Indeed, it’s no great secret that many companies, whatever industry they’re in have problems recruiting and retaining top staff.

So what can be done to tackle this issue? After all, losing crew to your competitors is not only annoying, but costly too.

We’ve taken a look before at some ways to increase your ability to retain your top seafarers but for this blog post we thought we’d take a closer look at just one of those factors: tolerance.

Seems like quite an unusual word to use in conjunction with crew retention doesn’t it? But hear us out and you might see why that it’s crucial for engaging with your candidates, employees and your contracted seafarers - and hence why it can be a tool in the battle for crew retention!

How to boost crew retention with tolerance and diversity

A very big part of life on board a container ship is multiculturalism. At any given time the crew on one of your vessels could be made up of seafarers from India, Ukraine, China or Ethiopia - to name just a few.

This creates a microcosm in which different backgrounds, beliefs, customs and languages coexist side by side - often in challenging circumstances. And that can lead to issues caused by misunderstanding or ignorance.

To get the very best from your crew, wherever they hail from, it is crucial that as a shipowner or ship manager you must foster a culture of tolerance, understanding and acceptance within your organization.

That means everywhere from your head office to any regional offices, and to your vessels themselves.

Chances are you agree wholeheartedly with this ethos. But perhaps you might not be so convinced about what this has to do with your crew retention strategy? Allow us to explain.

Why some seafarers leave due to a lack of tolerance

Research by IAMU showed that:

“...almost a quarter of younger officers who have given up a sea career have taken this decision after a bad experience as part of a multicultural crew.”

This is definitely something that the maritime industry as a whole should not ignore.

This issue of ‘having a bad experience’ due to the fact that the crew was multicultural is obviously a problem that needs to be talked about and addressed. Particularly if it’s so bad it’s making seamen give up the career they’ve worked so hard for.

And if you don’t want your current crew to become ex-crew for good, you might well need to address it.

Creating a culture of tolerance in your workplace and on your ships can be easier said than done, it’s true. Especially when the crews on your vessels are contractors and perhaps not as engaged with your company mindset and practices and maybe don't feel as 'seen' or listened to.

Related: How Asking for Feedback can Boost Crew Retention

Regardless, it’s crucial that as a shipowner or ship manager you make it clear to all of your staff, whether short term, part time or full time that you as an organization embrace all of the benefits that diversity in the workplace offer. And then ensure that filters down to your seafarers.

Which brings us onto...what are the benefits of diversity in the workplace?

3 benefits of diversity in the workplace

Diversity in the workplace isn’t just a box to be checked. It’s a real deal, as the research from IAMU proves. But how can diversity - and therefore tolerance - benefit you as a shipowner or manager? How can it stop crew from turning into ex-crew - for good?

1. Diverse teams are better at problem solving

As this report from the Harvard Business Review explores. The theory is that generally people prefer to blend in and if everyone on their team, or in their crew, is the same as them - in this sense culturally or racially - they’ll be more likely to stay quiet. If a crew is diverse, however, this fear of sticking out is removed and they’ll be more inclined to speak up.

2. Embracing diversity makes your company look better

Let’s be honest. If your organization is known as a company that leads by example and encourages transparency and an all-inclusive culture, from the top down to its crew, it will have a knock on effect, both on the managers, masters and senior officers you hire, and on those looking for seafarer jobs.

3. Fostering a diverse culture improves crew retention

We’re back to the main point of this article. So yes, if your company instills a belief in diversity in your employees, crew and contractors, your people are less likely to up sticks and leave. That means employees will remain in their land based maritime jobs for longer, and your crew will be more likely to line up their next contract with you.

And that will save you the time, energy and money of having to scramble to find new seamen for your crew change over dates.

How to demonstrate tolerance to stop crew leaving

As we said, you need to lead from the top. And that means making sure the masters and senior officers you hire are also made very aware of your shipping company’s views on intolerance.

To demonstrate this to their seafarers, and to increase your crew retention rates they need to lead by example.

They also need to make sure the way they communicate with their officers and ratings is clear and easily understandable. No matter where they come from or what their mother tongue is.

This will not only ensure that the vessel is efficiently, effectively and safely operated, but that all crew members feel included and able to perform their job to the best of their abilities.

Related: Why Great Communication is Essential for Crew Retention

It’s not rocket science: happier contractors on board equals improved crew retention!

Remove bias from the maritime recruitment process

When it comes down to it, you need qualified people to fill your vacant seafarer jobs. It really shouldn’t matter where they come from! At Martide we encourage seamen (and women, of course!) of all nationalities to join our candidate database.

We also give you the ability to filter these candidates for suitability according to the criteria you set when you build a Recruitment Pipeline.

This means that when you’re looking for seafarers to fill your job vacancies, you won’t have to spend hours sorting through hundreds of unsuitable applicants.

Instead, you will be able to focus your recruitment efforts just on the seamen who are qualified for your job and who hold the correct documentation.

Related: How Crewing Software Can Increase Crew Retention Rates

And the knock-on effect of that is that the right seafarer for the job is a lot more likely to end up in the right role.

Add that to your culture of tolerance and diversity and the chances of them becoming ex-crew and leaving your candidate database are reduced while your crew retention is increased!\

Why not contact Martide today and arrange a no-obligation demo so you can see how our platform works for yourself?

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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