International crew survey revealed

The Islander – September 2016

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64% of junior crew left as a direct result of poor leadership

Impact Crew reveals results from their international crew survey to identify the real reasons behind crew turnover.

Crew turnover is a topic of hot debate as its effects are felt industry wide, from Owners, Captains, recruitment agents, yacht managers and crew themselves, with the obvious impacts upon costs, safety related incidents, on board knowledge; and also the less apparent yet often more far reaching 'human' aspects such as Owner 'experience' and crew morale. The survey entitled "Why did you leave your last yacht?" received 826 responses, with many participants providing additional insights through anecdotal evidence and comments.

A broad range of crew completed the survey from the most senior to the most junior positions on board. Not surprisingly there were proportionately more senior crew who completed the survey (no incentives were offered), however, there was little difference in length of employment whether crew had been recruited through an agent or directly using personal networks,  etc.

We need to dispel some myths!

  • Crew don’t leave for more money! Only 9% gave this as their main reason for leaving, and when they were asked what would have made them stay longer, only a handful mentioned money (less than 3%).
  • Promotion is another common reason given, yet only 8% gave this as their main reason for leaving. One third of this group wanted improved leadership aboard and they may have stayed longer. We complain that people are looking for promotion too early, but we can hardly blame them if we are not giving them the right leadership and opportunities to develop when they are in a lesser role.
  • 22% gave their main reason for leaving was for better prospects (such as on the job training, sea time) and / or improved package (rotation, time off, courses, etc). This was not directly related to money (only 5% were in the money category too). Improved leadership, opportunities for development, a degree of work / life balance were the primary drivers.

Some Comments

“Fair payment and honesty.”

“The company should value their crew through giving health benefits and salary increase for those deserving and hardworking regular crew who have stayed loyal and worked long time for the company.”

“More Time Off! A few weeks leave on an annual basis is not enough for crew that often work 14+ hour days and weekends.”

What is at the heart of Crew turnover

  • Short term contracts, yard periods and yacht sales accounted for 22%.
  • Over 50% of respondents cited crew morale and personality clashes.
  • 40% claimed unfair treatment and bullying.
  • 30% complained about the leadership aboard.
  • Take the leaders out of the equation and that came to 64%!

Some comments

“Crew moral, more professional trainings and more appreciation.”

“Proper Leadership. No favouritism and bending the rules for some people. That’s unfair.”

“Captain with professional attitude and vision, with fair assessment of abilities of the officers and crew.”


Being a leader does not come naturally to most of us. The corporate world has been investing in its leaders for decades and continues to do so. The Superyacht industry is growing in both size and professionalism. We need to create an environment where leadership development is the norm and not the exception.

“Leadership is a journey, not a destination. It is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a process, not an outcome.” John Donahoe

Karen Passman, founder of Impact Crew suggests "with this greater depth of understanding of the push and pull factors we will be able to provide specific and targeted development for crew and some compelling data that could help drive through improvements within the yachting industry as a whole."

Impact Crew launched in 2007, specialises in catering to the unique demands of the superyacht industry.  They run whole crew team development events, as well as leadership and management training, both on board and ashore. Karen has a background in corporate management development and has also successfully designed and regularly delivers the new MCA HELM courses for UKSA.

Impact Crew would like to thank the organisations who helped to market the survey, including ACREW, PYA, Triton, Hemisphere Crew Solutions, JF Recruiting, Crew Unlimited, The Crew Network and The Crew Report.