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Why Human Capital Management is key to delivering a sustainable future for maritime

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HCM has grown from traditional Human Resource Management (HRM) and crewing approaches to recruiting and retaining staff. However, HCM is much more than this and should be an integral part of a company’s long-term, strategic, and data-driven approach to managing both seafarers and shore-based personnel to deliver sustained business success.

Key elements that a clearly defined HCM plan should include are as follows:

Skill development and retention:

HCM ensures that maritime professionals have the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate increasingly complex challenges, such as environmental regulations, technological advancements, and safety protocols. Investing in training and development programmes not only enhances individual competencies but also fosters loyalty and retention within the industry.

Safety and compliance:

Properly trained and motivated personnel are essential for maintaining high safety standards and ensuring compliance with all appropriate local and international regulations. HCM practices which prioritise safety culture and provide continuous training on safety procedures, contribute to reducing accidents, help protect marine ecosystems, and also enhance the industry’s reputation to the outside world.

Innovation and adaptability in the Maritime Industry:

As the industry evolves, with advances in technology, automation, and sustainability initiatives, HCM becomes instrumental in fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability. By encouraging creativity, knowledge sharing, and cross-disciplinary collaboration, HCM enables companies to embrace new technologies and practices that drive efficiency and environmental responsibility.

Diversity and Inclusion:

Embracing diversity and inclusion within maritime organisations enhances creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making. HCM strategies that promote equal opportunities and inclusive workplaces attract a broader talent pool, leading to a more resilient and adaptive industry capable of addressing global challenges effectively.

Leadership Development:

Effective leadership is essential for driving sustainability initiatives and fostering a culture of responsible stewardship within the maritime sector. HCM practices that identify and nurture leadership potential will help groom future leaders who can inspire teams, drive innovation, and advocate sustainable practices at all levels of the industry.

Seatrade MaritimeWhy Human Capital Management is key to delivering a sustainable future for maritime

Ethical Business Practises:

HCM encompasses ethical considerations such as fair labour practices, social responsibility, and ethical supply chain management. By prioritising ethical business practices and ensuring transparency and accountability in all operations, maritime companies can enhance their reputation, build trust with stakeholders, and contribute to a more sustainable global maritime industry.

A recent report by maritime research specialist Thetius, with insights and analysis of anonymised data from Ocean Technologies Group (OTG), has highlighted that having a robust HCM strategy in place is vital to attract and retain the talent the industry needs.

The report explores the challenges of recruiting, onboarding, training, and retaining seafarers and shoreside staff today. It also examines why it is becoming increasingly harder to bring talented people into the industry and provide them with the right support to enable their development and progression, and the challenges of keeping the best people ashore and at sea.

The report uncovered the following issues when talking to crewing companies:

  • Recruitment: Difficulty in attracting young talent and navigating unscrupulous crewing agencies.
  • Onboarding: Poor processes affecting new hires’ integration and engagement.
  • Training: Insufficient resources for developing skills and keeping pace with technological advancements.
  • Performance: Challenges in assessing and enhancing workforce performance.
  • Retention: Struggles with maintaining workforce due to isolation, health, working conditions, and diversity issues.

The key to having a good HCM strategy is how you tie your initiatives around these these five facets together and recognise how they impact each other.

If they all have a common data layer, you can see - for example - what impact training has on crew retention, or what impact onboarding has on recruitment. This will allow companies to invest their money wisely.

The report highlights six recommendations to the industry:

  1. Start with a vision and communicate this to your employees.
  2. Conduct regular temperature checking of your people.
  3. Focus on change management.
  4. Ensure you have good dialogue with your vendors.
  5. Acknowledge the constraints of the industry.
  6. Ensure that your HCM tools drive collaboration between people, processes and systems.

During a recent webinar discussing HCM and the report’s findings, Heidi Heseltine, Founder, Diversity Study Group Ltd and CEO, Halcyon Recruitment, felt the report is “providing the data on which business decisions can be made so even the hard sceptics who see anything relating to people as a ‘nice to have’ or a fluffy HR issue, can see this report demystifies that. If you want your business to have a competitive edge, you go down this route.”

Katie Lea, Director of Culture and Engagement at V.Group said: “At V.Group, we have more than 40,000 seafarers and we need to take a strategic approach in how we manage that. Last year, we merged our crewing and HR functions to take a more holistic approach to issues such as performance management, so it is completely aligned between ship and shore. The two main focuses for V. Group are how to rapidly upscale our people, and sustaining a talent pipeline, which includes attracting more women to come to sea.”

The report is available to download here.

You can find out more information on the latest news in our Hellas Maritime Report 2024.