Increasing Crew Longevity

The Islander – December 2015

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Managing expectations is an important aspect when interviewing, inducting and leading crew

During the Fort Lauderdale boat show this year Yacht Info hosted by Royal Huisman, held a number of highly successful panel discussions. Senior figures from across the industry made themselves available to share their thoughts and insights on a number of key issues. Audiences were encouraged to both ask questions and give their opinions.

On Friday 6th November Impact Crew chaired the panel discussion: “How can Captains retain crew for longer”. On the panel with Karen Passman of Impact Crew was Sue Price senior placement coordinator for Crew Unlimited, Bob Saxon global yachting consultant and Captain Andrew Johnstone. We are all aware of how prevalent crew turnover is and also some of the consequences of it, such as crew dynamics, team working, not to mention the costs involved. As well as looking at the data from the crew turnover survey, the panel identified a number of key areas that Captains and senior crew need to address if they are to attain crew longevity.



Getting the right people in the first instance is fundamental and Sue asked that Captains think more deeply about the type of person they are looking for. From how they like to spend their down time, their motivations for being put forward for this job and the culture that they will bring to the yacht are just as, if not more important than the skill and experience they bring. Unlike popular belief, professional and ethical crew placement businesses don’t want crew turnover! If they find themselves re-placing crew within the trial period – often 3 months, they are doing the job for a second time “for free”. Perhaps the industry needs to reconsider the current code of etiquette where the recruitment company who places the CV first on the Captain’s desk is the one paid, to one which encourages a more selective and considered approach to who is put forward for the various positions. Impact Crew now offers a crew selection service which gives Captains the opportunity of asking their top 3 candidates to complete psychometrics along with a telephone interview, which results in a report and provides insights for the person conducting the final interview (Owner, Captain or HoD), along with suggested questions and areas to probe to give the best possibility of finding the right fit for your yacht.

Managing Expectations

There was a debate around the new generation of crew stepping into the industry. Some members of the audience had experienced “green” crew whose expectations were somewhat out of kilter with reality. They were unwilling to work “hard” and expected life on board to be much like life at home, with “Mum” picking up after them. Increasingly crew are coming straight from living with parents to working on board, missing out on the reality of fending for themselves. As too are the sometimes unrealistic expectations that some training schools give their fresh students as they sign up to complete their STCW. When many of us started in the industry we didn’t need to run up a debt before we took our first job. Now many arrive on the dock with significant loans and their motivations to work in the industry often include financial drivers and they don’t necessarily include a passion for being at sea. However, it was pointed out that not all young crew fall into this category and that it is our responsibility to manage their expectations, from interview, to induction, to everyday life on board.  There are many who come through who have a very high work ethic and are looking to make long term careers for themselves.

Certainly managing expectations is an important aspect of not just interview and induction, but an on-going aspect of leadership on board. How many times have the rumours kicked off, because of lack of information.  We have previously spoken of the importance of giving crew the right leadership and this includes a regular whole crew brief – so that everyone has the same message at the same time. Dealing with issues early means as a leader you need to have your finger on the pulse. With 50% of the crew who completed the crew turnover survey stating that there were crew issues on board, it’s a fact of life,  issues will happen; how much impact they have will depend upon how quickly and effectively they are dealt with.

With the demand for crew in the Superyacht industry set significantly increase over the coming years, how we recruit, induct and develop new crew will be a key factor in the way the industry will evolve - for better or worse.

Impact Crew offers on board team and leadership development. Contact us to see how we can enhance your yacht’s crew longevity.