A common issue in our market is the high amount of crew turnover, which is particularly prevalent in the junior ranks. We speak to a number of captains, who offer their insight as to why they believe this issue exists in the industry, as well as potential solutions to combat the problem.
Captain Boris Sore, M/Y Pida
We should understand two very different causes of movement of the crew: Natural, logical movements and "the other one". Naturally, your crew should move up, otherwise they are not ambitious or skilled enough. Their living habits change, as well as their perspective, and they may want to look for another boat location. The "other reason" is when your crew leave your boat to be on the similar boat, in the same capacity. This is the one we should worry about! In my opinion, if this happens, someone has failed in the work-rest-fun-friends-family-work balance. It may be the captain, the manager or the owner.
The time in which we live has changed. It use to be hard to hear of a job vacancy, and even harder to travel there. Today, information circles very fast, everybody is on the web at all time and even getting push notifications for a jobs advertised! It was never like this before; dock-walking was the closest thing you could do. Agencies were only in one place, whereas now you have them anywhere and all on the internet. You have owners paying more and those who pay less, so crew find out very quickly that there is a 'better' boat to work on.
"The time in which we live has changed. It use to be hard to hear of a job vacancy, and even harder to travel there. Today, information circles very fast, everybody is on the web at all time and even getting push notifications for a jobs advertised! It was never like this before."
Captain Dario Savino, M/Y Regina D' Italia
Crew turnover has always been the dark side of the equation. I have been on busy and under-crewed charter yachts with very high crew longevity, with back-to-back summer and winter charters (and the owner filling in all the empty spaces in between). In these circumstances, the crew have very little time to argue. On the other hand, what happens on very relaxed privates, with few guests and days off, the crew have more time to find a reason to not to get along with each other and they then make life on board less bearable. When this happens, people decide to leave because their life on board is full of tense relationships. Also, a passion for the sea is less and less of a motivation for crew. Nowadays, they look for salary, fast internet and quality time off.
There are some ideas to decrease crew turnover, such as a longevity bonus, periodical salary increases or charter tips can be used to motivate lower rank crew to stay longer. This, as well as an opportunity to give crew the freedom to plan and develop a proper sea career. Another idea is the possibility to adopt a rotation (like on a merchant ship) with three or four months on and one off, which could be easily obtained by employing full time extra deckhand and extra stewardess. This will allow people to have a private life, even if working at sea.
Captain Michael Schueler, M/Y Rasselas
I believe that crew turnover is one of the biggest, financially unmeasured problems in yachting. The belief with many of my fellow captains that I talk with is that in the lower ranks, each time a crew member turns over, it costs the yacht owner up to €5,000 to €10,000, and with officers, I believe that it can easily get up to €20,000 in flights, paperwork, specific boat training, safety drills, uniforms, 'lost' inventories, mistakes and breakage.
"I believe that crew turnover is one of the biggest, financially unmeasured problems in yachting. The belief with many of my fellow captains that I talk with is that in the lower ranks, each time a crew member turns over, it costs the yacht owner up to 5,000 to 10,000 euros."
Instead of looking at this problem from this larger perspective, what if we simplified it down to the most basic form, which is looking for the solution in each individual. As a captain, ask yourself: 'What can I do to improve myself to make yachting better for my crew, captain, shore side support, or owner?' You can only really control yourself, but imagine what yachting would be like if we all did it? The only focus we all should have is legally, safely, (and hopefully ethically) making yacht owners happier than they have ever been on their yacht to ensure they stay in the industry for the rest of their lives. The money is just simply a result of us successfully reaching our goal.
This article originally appeared in The Crew Report. To download the latest issue, click here.
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