How to build a high-quality seafarer pool

93% of Filipino officers say medical cards and insurance for their families drew them to their principal. We know because we surveyed them. In this blog post, we’ll reveal how to use data to understand and attract Filipino and Eastern European seafarers, in particular we analyze how to:

  • Build a high-quality seafarer pool

  • Address seafarer needs

  • Build engagement and loyalty with seafarers

High-quality seafarers are in short supply, especially during global crises. Seafarers usually choose the manning agency that provides them with the best service and the best opportunities. A reliable manning agency must be able to handle all these challenges:

  • Understand and address seafarer and principal needs

  • Attract seafarers through digital channels

  • Exchange information with seafarers through the right products

  • Ensure seamless collaboration

Communicating principal needs and value props effectively

Apart from providing high quality services to seafarers, a manning agency should be in a position to represent its principals effectively. An agency’s success depends on its ability to:

  • Ensure that a seafarer meets a principal’s vessel unique criteria, based on its specification (eg engine, cranes, size, YOB), but also based on crew mix, cargo, itinerary and principal matrices/criteria

  • Communicate a principal’s or vessel’s value propositions for a seafarer, including vessel conditions, benefits, seafarer satisfaction, retention rate, career plans, etc.

Agencies that rely on manual processes have a tough time customizing their communication to seafarers, which makes it more difficult to effectively vet and attract good quality seafarers on behalf of a principal.

Addressing seafarer needs

Each seafarer has specific goals and needs in mind when accepting a term on a commercial vessel. Unless they’re met, the seafarer will lose motivation, which will hamper their performance. If goals and needs are not communicated properly, the seafarer will feel resentment.

The right manning agency must discover, discuss, and negotiate these needs throughout the hiring process. At the same time, the manning agency shall act as a delegate between the seafarers needs as well as the requirements of its principals, in a way that satisfies them both and helps them meet their goals By gathering input from seafarers, a manning agency can track their satisfaction and create a concrete career plan for them.

Verbal communication with seafarers is a way for manning agencies to understand some seafarer needs, but it’s not a scalable process that generates useful insights. A modern manning agency must have the tools and processes to receive all types of signals and feedback from seafarers and principals in a scalable way. These signals come in the form of feedback for a company’s vacancies, interviews, seafarer satisfaction surveys, appraisals, monthly check-ins between seafarer and manning agency. Seafarers need to be heard and their input matters.

Building engagement and loyalty with seafarers

Loyalty comes through engaging and overcoming a challenge together. It is the consequence of the long-term application of the "we’re in this together and we can make it through" attitude. However, manning agencies often give the impression of insular authority figures that don’t engage with or relate to seafarers.

Shipping companies may lack the tools or the time to attend to every seafarer effectively, but they can use a manning agency’s tools and services to compensate. A helpful manning agency provides assistance in building engagement with the seafarers to increase retention rate.

Modern manning agencies should be in a position to transmit structured data to principals to improve the work outcome onboard. Assessments, appraisals, proper familiarizations, trainings and surveys are just some of the meands that can prepare a particular seafarer to respond to challenges onboard. Digital tools help a principal understand their pool’s needs and manage them in a way that shows commitment and professionalism to seafarers - significantly affecting retention rates.

At Seafair, we help our clients customize the experience that their seafarers get through our manning agencies in Eastern Europe and the Philippines. Our software, data infrastructure, scalable processes and human-centered approach to communications with seafarers allow our clients to build their own manning agency, and ensure that they collaborate effectively and seamlessly with their seafarers. This methodology helps them build a high quality seafarer pool that is tailored to their needs.

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