Why Listening is Vital for Crew Retention

Jun 30, 2020 · 22 mins read ·

Crew Management, Maritime Recruitment
dog with large ears

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, attracting and then retaining great seafarers is a recurring issue which doesn’t seem to go away.

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching the stars of your candidate database finish their contract, disembark from your vessel, head home for a period of shore leave...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.

So 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?

It’s probably 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 listening is vital for employee and crew retention

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.

These could run from factors to do with the availability of WiFi onboard a vessel to things that are outside of your control such as having personal issues with other crew members while at sea.

Or perhaps they feel that they’re not valued and the hard work they do to endure the success and safety of your vessel 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. 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.

Fostering a culture of tolerance and diversity will also have a big impact and should not be overlooked when you’re developing your employee retention techniques.

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 four 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 them 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!

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 employ and hire 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.

Crew retention made easy

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.

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.

And while 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.

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.

Read more: How Crewing Software Can Increase Your Crew Retention Rates

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 interview 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.

PS - don’t forget to tell your crew to download our seafarer job app for iOS or Android from the Apple App Store or from Google Play!

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.

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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