Seafarers Happiness Index rebounds from record low

(LONDON) — The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, published by The Mission to Seafarers, reveals that seafarer happiness levels are recovering after reaching a record low last quarter. Overall happiness has increased from 5.85 to 7.21/10, with levels rising across all categories.

The survey, undertaken with the support of the Standard Club and Idwal, reports on the second quarter of 2022 and shows that the influx of industry solutions to tackle seafarer well-being has finally begun to lift morale and the mindset on board. With more vaccinations, more frequent crew changes, wage rises and new amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), there has been a knock-on effect for seafarer optimism. However, while the data does suggest improvements, now is not the time for complacency.

An easing of the COVID-19 crisis

After more than two years of uncertainty caused by COVID-19, seafarers are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s still not clear if we are post-pandemic or simply experiencing a COVID lull, restrictions have now eased across the world. Seafarers are able to move more freely and have more certainty about whether they can go ashore and when they will next be able to go home. This freedom of movement has had a hugely beneficial effect on seafarer happiness and as vaccination levels also rise among crews, there is a sense of stability returning to the industry.

The Mission to Seafarers illustration

More regular crew changes and time ashore

The survey highlighted that seafarers are happier with their shore leave and with welfare facilities when they are ashore. Now that COVID restrictions are easing, more seafarer centers are open and able to support seafarers with the provisions they need when ashore. The biggest contributing factor to an improvement of mood has been that the most fundamental aspect of seafaring now appears more certain – knowing when you are going home. The data from the second quarter reflects that the industry is getting better at making crew changes more regularly, with 41 percent of seafarers on board for between just one and three months.

Renewed focus on seafarer well-being

There has been a marked increase in a range of areas that contribute to overall improved seafarer well-being. There has been a focus on social events that boost morale – including weekly gatherings, quizzes, karaoke, sports, barbecues and movie nights, with increased backing and the support of leadership; there was also a jump in seafarer satisfaction with food on board. Changes to the MLC regarding connectivity have been met with cautious optimism by seafarers who are excited at the prospect of improved communication with loved ones, yet wary of the implications of cost and quality of service. The survey shows that efforts are being made to improve seafarers’ quality of life while on board and that this focus is paying off.

This latest data shows there are signs of better things ahead for seafarers. However, any recovery in seafarer happiness should be treated delicately and can easily be lost. It is important that the industry continues the work to improve crew well-being and does not rest on its laurels. The data does show there is still a way to go and there is further work to be done to reach those seafarers who are struggling, who feel lost, frustrated and are in need of help.

“It is great to see seafarer happiness increase after such low satisfaction in the last Seafarers Happiness Index report,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew Wright, secretary-general of The Mission to Seafarers. “As always, there is much to be learned from hearing directly from seafarers on how they feel about life at sea – the positives and negatives. By listening, we can better understand, empathize and make the necessary changes to improve seafarers’ lives and experiences.

“While it has been a difficult two years, it is nice to see some optimism return, which is largely down to the hard work the industry has done to make life better and raise spirits on board,” he continued. “However, there are still areas that can be improved upon, which is why it’s so critical for organizations to continue taking meaningful steps to boost seafarer happiness and crew welfare. With increased investment and thoughtful leadership, we can work together and find solutions that continue to improve the quality of life at sea for seafarers.”

To read the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, click here.

– The Mission to Seafarers

By Rich Miller