Human resources (HR) management in the maritime sector brings a unique set of challenges. Stretched across vast geographical areas, dealing with diverse workforces, and coping with rigorous compliance requirements that differ from one country to the next, shipping companies often find traditional HR solutions inadequate.
Indeed, recent studies indicate that as much as 87% of maritime employees are considering making a job move due to factors such as a lack of company culture, lack of sufficient access to training and development programs, or a widespread disconnect between on-vessel and on-shore operations.
However, modern HR software suited to the unique needs of the maritime sector promises to be a game-changer by helping companies optimise crew management, enhance productivity, and simplify regulatory compliance, all while ensuring the wellbeing of their crews. For many in the industry, those changes are sorely needed.
Optimise routine crew management operations
In the dynamic world of maritime operations, companies require HR systems that are robust, adaptable, and capable of handling the complex tasks associated with crew management. This includes routine operations at sea, such as roster planning, crew changes, safety drill scenarios, payroll processing, and task tracking. Furthermore, especially with smaller crews, one person, typically the chief officer or the captain, will be responsible for overseeing all of these matters while working closely with shore-based HR departments.
Modern maritime HR software is equipped with features that automate many of these tasks, reducing the need for manual intervention, thus eliminating discrepancies. This automation allows crews to dedicate their time to other essential tasks, while also simplifying operations back on shore.
For instance, let’s consider the case of a vessel operating in international waters over several months. Managing a diverse crew, coordinating shift rotations, and handling cross-border payroll can be daunting tasks. However, with maritime HR software, these processes can be seamlessly automated, ensuring efficient crew changes, safety drill planning, and accurate payroll management. Moreover, all related data can be synchronised with on-shore operations to maintain complete visibility over crew operations across the enterprise and its many assets.
Maintain crew information in a centralised repository
The importance of maintaining a comprehensive database of crew-related information in the maritime sector cannot be overstated. With a diverse crew often moving from one ship to another within the same fleet, having a centralised data repository is key to effective workforce management.
HR software provides a centralised data repository that stores all crew-related information, including medical records, next of kin details, contract data, and work history. This information is essential both at sea and on shore, and it should be easily transferable between ships and on-shore departments. Having a comprehensive view of each crew member’s profile enables better decision-making and ensures data security, compliance, and transparency.
Consider the scenario of a crew member transitioning from one ship to another within the same company. A centralised repository enables the new ship’s management to access all necessary information about the crewmember, ensuring a smooth transition and more efficient onboarding.
Streamline compliance with certification tracking
The maritime industry operates under an extensive regulatory framework, making compliance management a vital yet complicated task. The Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW), for example, requires seafarers to maintain proper certificates, adding an extra layer of administrative work for HR departments – one that ship captains are also accountable for.
HR software suited for maritime use can simplify certification management by keeping track of each crewmember’s certificates, their expiry dates and the booking and tracking of courses necessary to earn and maintain said certifications. This is vital for helping companies meet regulatory requirements and reduce the risk of noncompliance.
Take the case of a shipping company managing a multinational crew with varying certificate renewal dates. Without an automated system, it could become an enormous administrative task, not to mention one that’s highly prone to errors. However, HR software with automated alerts ensures that each crew member’s certification status remains up-to-date, significantly reducing the risk of non-compliance and the potential penalties that come with it.
Manage crew fatigue in line with industry standards
In the high-stress, always-on environment of maritime operations, crew fatigue is a significant concern that can impact safety, productivity, and employee satisfaction. Modern HR software allows shipping companies to manage crew fatigue effectively by accurately tracking work and rest hours and ensuring adherence to industry standards and company-specific rules.
For example, during a long journey, crew members might work exhaustive hours, increasing the risk of errors and accidents. HR software can monitor these work-rest cycles and alert management when a crew member’s work hours is approaching the limits set by regulatory bodies or the company’s own policies.
By automating the tracking and management of crew fatigue, HR software helps maintain a healthy, productive environment onboard. Moreover, a comprehensive HR solution that’s part of a broader business management system can help crewmembers stay connected with their colleagues both on other vessels and on shore, thus reducing the burden of isolation that often exacerbates fatigue.
By deploying the right software, shipping companies can transform their HR management, fostering an environment that prioritises both crew wellbeing and operational efficiency. This holistic approach to HR not only ensures regulatory compliance but also drives long-term growth and success in one of the most challenging industries of all.