55% of shore-based employees are seeking a new job

Whichever way you turn at the moment, you cannot escape the needs or wants of people. For those of us in the maritime industry, the plight of our seafarers due to an inability to carry out crew changes continues to dominate and, quite rightly, take precedence. What they and their families are enduring is unimaginable and those working to rectify the situation are doing a phenomenal job. Even the Pope has offered his support.
But there is another shark in the water and that is growing levels of dissatisfaction within the shore-based maritime community.
Imagine you’re sitting in your company office (I appreciate that may seem a distant memory) and 94% of your employees / colleagues tender their resignation today. The impact that would have could be lethal for your business and your organisations’ reputation.
Whilst it is extremely unlikely that will happen, now imagine that 94% of your workforce is in the office but thinking about moving on and wondering about their next job with their next employer. That, it would seem from the results of the Maritime Employee Survey Report 2020, is a very real scenario as it found that 55% of employees are actively seeking a new role and a further 39% are not actively looking but are open to offers.
This will already be impacting businesses. Employees are highly unlikely to be at their productive best and what about the knock-on impact to motivation and innovation? Also, forget loyalty, that’s likely to have gone out of the window the moment the grass started seeming greener elsewhere. Even for the six out of every 100 employees who are not open to a move, the atmosphere is unlikely to be one they will thrive in.
The report also reveals that an overwhelming 90% would like their employer to do more to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and able to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Surely this should make all of us sit up and take notice? Yes, this is a snapshot of the industry but the sentiment is strong and not to be ignored.
What about if we take this one step further and look at what has been happening on an individual level? The survey was undertaken from January to March so just as Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. At that time, less than half of survey respondents (a mere 48%) had had at least one meaningful conversation about their personal development with their line manager within the last six months preceding survey completion. It’s likely that figure is now considerably higher with the requirement to work from home and the effects of Covid-19 still being felt to the detriment of personal development opportunities. Furthermore, only 60% of employees cite their company culture as being one where they feel supported in the workplace.
The good news is that our employees want to learn (75% are motivated to take part in training to develop their career) and they want their employers to help them understand how they can do their job better. 74% of the survey participants would like to have a defined development plan to help them understand what they need to do in order to do their job better. Isn’t this a fundamental part of an employers’ responsibility and one where both parties stand to reap the benefits?
The majority of shipping is at a very immature stage when it comes to inclusion and employee engagement but, thankfully, there is progression and there are companies making great strides. Only last week one individual I know took a job that was a sideways move and a major part of his decision was due to the working environment and the employee values demonstrated throughout every level of the organisation.
If inclusion and employee engagement are new concepts to your organisation or ones you wish to drive further, you can opt to outsource which will give you the opportunity to take a more holistic view of all the options available to you, tailor them to your specific needs and timetables whilst being supported at every stage of the process. It also allows you to capitalise on best practice methodologies used in other more advanced sectors. Furthermore, it is possible to see results quickly as from the moment you proactively seek improvement, you can start to turn the tide.
Providing a working environment where people feel supported, developed, engaged and a proactive and valued contributor to their organisation should be a business priority for every CEO / president / business owner. It does require investment in terms of time and resource but the return on said investment is proven to be positive. For those who don’t try, get ready to invest in replacing your staff and see how much that costs you and your business. It’s unlikely the Pope would step in to help you with this one.

Heidi Heseltine

Heidi Heseltine is the CEO of Halcyon Recruitment and co-founder of the Diversity Study Group. Her past career saw her work for shipowners, brokers as well as Levelseas.


  1. In an industry managing assets of Tens of Millions, with revenues of Hundreds of Millions, requiring huge focus by the people doing it, this is a massively under resourced area of business management – excellent text.
    Managers should nurture the “soil” of their organisation with more time, focus and resource than their petunias in hanging baskets – withered employees don’t produce, and look bad from outside too.

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