Warning signs for shipping businesses as employees seek more focus on workplace culture and support, including diversity and inclusion, in post-COVID era
10 June 2020 – Shipping industry employees are prioritising greater efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, as well as workplace support for training and development – and are increasingly prepared to look for new jobs elsewhere, according to the results of a major annual survey.

The 11th Annual Maritime Employee Survey was conducted earlier this year by Halcyon Recruitment, Diversity Study Group and Coracle Maritime and the results have now been published.

As well as providing revealing results into the opinions of employees ahead of the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey also provides valuable insights for employers on the challenges they face when the crisis passes.

When looking at diversity, over half of participants (52%) have been aware of discrimination in the industry but, perhaps surprisingly given the industry’s recent focus on gender balance in shipping, gender discrimination does not top the list. The most commonly cited areas of concern over discrimination were nationality (60%), followed by age (41%), gender (37%) and ethnicity (32%).

Only 60% of employees cite their company culture as being one where they feel supported in the workplace and an overwhelming 90% would like their employer to do more to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and able to contribute.

The survey results suggest a keen appetite for learning and development. 74% of participants would like to have a defined development plan to help understand what they need to do in order to do their job better. Vessel Operators rank highest (81%), perhaps a contributing factor as to why so many in this segment (60%) are actively looking for new employment.

By contrast, less than half of respondents (48%) have had at least one meaningful conversation about their personal development with their line manager in the six months preceding survey completion.

The survey also revealed that 55% of employees are actively seeking a new role and a further 39% are open to offers. This translates into just 6% of employees being committed to their current role; something that employers would do well to understand better.

76% of respondents are motivated to take part in training to enhance the skills needed to develop their career but only 45% of respondents work for companies who provide external training and education opportunities, and only 62% are given internal training and education opportunities.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Heidi Heseltine, CEO of Halcyon Recruitment, said:

“The commitment and resilience of shipping employees around the globe has been widely reported and much praised during the COVID-19 crisis. It is widely recognised that an overnight change occurred for most employees, requiring immediate adaptation to remote working and new technologies; both areas where the shipping industry has lagged behind many other industries. Quite rightly, many employers have openly praised our employees and, one could argue, started to recognise them as the most valuable asset of any organisation.

“Our survey was conducted just before COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic. Prior to that, there was growing discussion about creating inclusive working environments, encouraging diversity and how to attract and retain talent. Our research reveals some trends which should worry the industry at any time, but particularly now when we rely more than ever on an engaged, motivated workforce.

“There is a lot of speculation about the long-term impact of the pandemic on our workplaces and working lives, but it is already clear that employees are looking for more than a return to ‘business as usual’. They are also increasingly willing to move to find it. This should be a clear incentive for employers to consider what changes they can make to support their teams, including meaningful action on inclusivity and diversity, greater flexibility and more support for learning and development.”

The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2020 and attracted over 1,300 responses, with results broken down by business areas, market sector and location. The purpose of the survey is to provide a platform to the men and women that work in the maritime industry and to listen to their perspective on their careers and working environments. Halcyon Recruitment, Diversity Study Group and Coracle Maritime are grateful to everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

The survey report is available on the Halcyon website. To download a copy, visit https://www.halcyonrecruitment.com/employee-survey.pdf.