We’re approaching the winter season, which means nearly every superyacht captain will be asking themselves that one key question, yet again: how can I retain my crew over the winter season? We speak to Nicky André, managing director of Hemisphere Crew Solutions, about how captains can do exactly this.
“The first thing I’ll say to captains is, are you doing reviews with your crew? Do an end-of-season review, because you’ve got to find out what your crew’s motivation is first,” advises André. Captains need to understand if their crew want to go on holiday, want to be home over Christmas, want to use the quiet season to get more training under their belt; quite simply, what they can offer that means they will retain their crew.
But so often, this conversation doesn’t even happen. “It’s all about communication,” explains André. “I’ve spoken to a couple of senior captains today who are saying their bosses are sick and tired, having come to the end of the season and having gone through so many crew yet again. They said to me that they don’t know if the crew they have are going to stay. So I said, speak to them individually, one by one, and give them the captain’s ear. Say, 'Right guys, we’re going to have some reviews and I want to really find out what you’re looking for over the next 12 months'. A lot of crew would go, ‘Blimey, my captain actually wants to talk to me’. It’s such a positive reinforcement.”
Jumping ship, particularly at this time of year, has become such a natural part of the crew culture, that so often it is simply accepted. Yet, equally often, there will be ways of retaining this crewmember ready to jump.
- Nicky André, managing director, Hemisphere Crew Solutions
It could be with the offer of training courses, André points out. “If someone’s saying to the captain, ‘I just feel like I’m not going to be doing anything over the winter, just waiting for the boss to come on’, the captain can say, ‘OK, so what if you were to do a couple of courses that we helped towards, to get your skill set up? Would that keep you interested?’ Yes, it probably would.”
Another option is a pay review – not a pay rise. “Captains can say, ‘I’m going to give you a salary review, but because of the time of year I’m going to do it in February or March, ready for the next season.’ A lot of people will do a pay review at the end of a season, but then where’s their motivation to go forward onto another season? So stay motivated and positive over the winter and you will get that reward of having a pay review in the spring,” André explains.
Communication works, and this is summed up in a recent conversation André had with a captain. “He told me that when a person joins he explains to them the procedure of a trial, then after the trial they will have a review, get feedback from the head of department, give them the feedback and say that after three months there will be another review. I just sat there and thought, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Everything I’m trying to advocate about stopping crew leaving, you’re doing – if only more captains would do that. I asked about his crew retention and he said 100 per cent. There you go.”