82% of superyacht crew experience low morale while on board, new study reveals

The results of new research into the welfare needs of superyacht crew, conducted by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and MHG Insurance Brokers, were announced on Monday at a seminar held at Inmarsat’s headquarters in London, UK.

The survey, aimed at seafarers who work on superyachts, sought to investigate welfare issues specific to the sector and has been backed up by in-depth interviews and diary studies.

Based on responses from 402 superyacht crew responding to the 50-question survey, the report finds:

  • 82% had experienced low crew morale ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’
  • 77% of women, and 55% of men, had experienced problems with on-board leadership ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’
  • 67% ‘usually’ or ‘always’ felt rested in port
  • 79% were on permanent contracts
  • 51% were satisfied with their leave entitlement
  • 57% of women and 39% of men suffered from social isolation or loneliness ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’ while working on board

The report featured quotes from crew who enjoyed into the exciting opportunities the yachting industry offers, including: “Yachting delivers beautiful adventures to remote parts of the world… at a fraction of a cost that any other occupation can offer.”

In contrast, other responses provided an insight into the physical strains of the job: “…you work [very] long hours without a day off in weeks during charters.”

Elsewhere, the report also provides an honest assessment of the care crew receive from their employers: “I know a lot of yachts look after their crew but a lot don’t.”

The recommendations of the report include the following:

  • Improving recruits’ knowledge of what to expect on board before they go to sea
  • Improved support for seafarers who are coming out of the superyacht sector
  • Raising awareness of what support for wellbeing is out there for seafarers, and widening distribution of welfare materials and information to include yacht crew
  • An increase in the availability of rotational posts, which would make a concession to family life
  • Enabling more time for rest and relaxation

Dr. Olivia Swift, who conducted the research for ISWAN, presented the results to delegates and a panel, and then addressed three key discussion points stemming from the report: gender, religion and leadership.

Andrew Dudzinski, MHG Insurance Brokers’ chairman and CEO, said, “How can we expect to recruit and retain loyal crew tomorrow if we don’t understand their welfare concerns today?”

The research was described by seminar delegates as “long overdue” and a “step in the right direction for the future of superyachting in a modern world”.

Roger Harris, ISWAN’s executive director, commented, “The research highlights some real concerns of crew working on superyachts that need to be addressed by the sector. We are grateful to MHG Insurance Brokers for funding the research and to The Mission to Seafarers for supporting it.”

Andrew Wright, secretary general at The Mission to Seafarers, added, “I was absolutely delighted to attend the excellent superyacht seminar. The findings of the study confirm my own experience of the industry and were properly thought-provoking.

“This is an area of need which has been insufficiently on the radar of most maritime welfare organisations. At The Mission to Seafarers, we are determined to take forward current discussions. Working with partners, we are looking to develop appropriate kinds of support, focused on identified areas of need and using our particular skills and experience.”

The full report is available to read now.

These findings mirror YP’s own survey results from 2017, and back up what was discovered in our recent investigation into mental health.

For more information, visit MHG Insurance Brokers and ISWAN. Sign up to our newsletter to get the best of Yachting Pages delivered direct to your inbox every month.

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