Wellbeing and a High Performing Ship

Keeping a ship’s crew happy and healthy on board is a difficult task, particularly as seafarers are often at sea for months at a time. With the focus on wellbeing becoming increasingly important in an industry that has long been considered at odds with a healthy lifestyle, Andy Cook, Crewing Operations Director at V.Crew, explains why crew wellbeing is essential to the successful operation of a ship, and how the industry is changing to better embrace wellness.

“Historically, health and wellbeing have never really been associated with the maritime sector and the people who work in it,” says Andy. “However, the industry has changed significantly in the last few years and is becoming more aware that crew wellbeing is critical to attracting and retaining a good crew. It’s vital that you’re a responsible employer with a positive duty of care to your seafaring colleagues.” The wellbeing discussion has also been amplified by the tireless work of a number of maritime charities, such as Stellar Maris, Mission to Seafarers and Seafarers UK, with the latter launching a manifesto for seafarers which cites access to “high quality welfare services” as a key objective.

In January 2019 a pilot was launched across nine vessels aimed at improving the welfare of seafarers. The scheme provides participants with access to an app on their mobile phone, through which the seafarer can commit to various activities related to their nutrition and fitness. If they reach the targets set by the app, they receive points which they can accrue and eventually exchange for a reward. The scheme also encourages seafarers to engage in these activities within groups and to create competition with colleagues onboard other vessels within their fleet.

V.Crew also provides seafaring colleagues with a range of printed resources aimed at encouraging crew to take charge of their physical and mental health. This includes a handy guide to nutrition and allergies and a wellness workbook, where they can log their day-to-day health. Andy says: “By giving our crew the right tools to help and motivate them to improve and monitor their wellbeing, they will feel empowered to take action at an individual level.” The materials are designed to complement the existing wellbeing training and development videos offered by Marlins, V.Group’s in house training provider, at the start of each crew member’s employment.

Feedback from V.Crew’s wellness initiatives, including the pilot, suggest that this approach is working. “We’ve had some really positive feedback from our seafarers that V.Crew’s commitment to health and wellbeing is having a positive impact,” notes Andy. “We know from experience that when a crew is healthier and happier, the performance of the vessel is ultimately improved, meaning that everyone is happy. That’s what we’re striving to achieve.”

For more information about V.Crew’s crew management services, visit www.vgrouplimited.com/crew-management