Promoting a healthy lifestyle is a key priority in wellness strategy

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There can be no ships or shipping without seafarers. That’s why numerous discussions are currently underway to address wellness concerns. Ultimately, a contented crew fosters a welcoming, safe, inclusive, and positive environment onboard. Given the demanding nature of seafarers’ work, a key priority for the industry is to enhance their resilience in facing all onboard challenges, ensuring satisfaction with both their work and life at sea.

In this context, SAFETY4SEA launched the ‘SEAFiT Barometer Survey’, a wide-ranging industry survey conducted during the final months of 2023. It aimed to examine the crucial factors contributing to positive choices and a sense of fulfillment across physical, psychological, social, occupational, and spiritual dimensions. The results offer insights into the wellness factors that are integral to the strategies and programs of maritime organizations.

Wellness has many aspects to consider; however, which aspects take priority on the wellness agenda? Here, we present the top 20 wellness factors revealed by the latest survey among industry stakeholders:

Rank Factor Group Factor Score %
1 Physical Healthy lifestyle 83.9
2 Intellectual Skills development and competence 82.8
3 Social Cyber wellness 80.6
4 Social Leadership 79.4
5 Intellectual Time Management 78.9
6 Mental Suicide prevention 77.8
7 Mental Resilience 76.7
8 Intellectual Professional and personal development/ mentoring 76.1
9 Mental Stress, Anxiety, Depression 75.6
10 Mental Fatigue, burn out 75.0
11 Spiritual Beliefs, values, ethics 74.8
12 Mental Bullying, harassment, discrimination 74.4
13 Physical Quality sleep 73.3
14 Social Teamwork and team bonding activities 73.3
15 Intellectual Goal setting and decision making 73.3
16 Physical Personal Hygiene 72.8
17 Physical Fitness and exercise 71.1
18 Intellectual Growth mindset 71.1
19 Physical Balanced diet 70.0
20 Physical Boosting metabolism 69.4
Key findings of the survey
  • The survey underscores the paramount importance of prioritizing a healthy lifestyle within the maritime industry, acknowledging the physically demanding nature of work at sea and the significant prevalence of work-related injuries.
  • Shipping companies are urged to engage in campaigns and initiatives promoting healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate the risk of lifestyle diseases among seafarers.
  • The emphasis on skills development and competence highlights the industry’s recognition of the necessity for intellectual growth and proficiency, especially amid ongoing efforts to decarbonize and digitalize maritime operations.
  • The industry’s acknowledgment and promotion of cyber wellness are commendable, reflecting a proactive approach to ensuring healthy online behavior and responsible technology use aboard vessels.
  • Prioritizing leadership and time management underscores their crucial roles in fostering initiative, motivation, and productivity among crewmembers while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
  • Addressing mental, physical, intellectual, and social aspects of wellness, including resilience, stress management, teamwork, and personal hygiene, is essential for cultivating healthier and more resilient individuals and communities within the industry.
  • The survey’s recognition of spiritual wellness, particularly the importance of respecting individual beliefs, values, and ethics, aligns with broader efforts to promote holistic well-being within maritime organizations.
  • By integrating spiritual wellness considerations into Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies and organizational values, companies can further support the overall well-being of their workforce.
Analyzing the critical well-being factors: Why they matter

According to the survey results, it’s clear that a healthy lifestyle emerges as the primary concern, emphasizing a strong focus on physical well-being. Given the physically demanding nature of working at sea and the significant number of work-related injuries, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is fundamental to ensuring a long and sustainable career at sea while minimizing the risk of lifestyle diseases.

Consequently, shipping companies actively engage in campaigns and initiatives to promote the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices. It’s unsurprising that this is considered a high-priority factor in wellness strategies and programs.

Skills development and competence closely follow, emphasizing the significance of intellectual growth and proficiency. With the industry’s expanding efforts to decarbonize and digitalize, both seafarers and onshore personnel are expected to adapt to rapidly evolving developments by enhancing their skills.

Recent studies have highlighted that maritime operations will increasingly embrace digitalization and automation alongside the implementation of alternative fuel technologies in the shipping industry. This underscores the necessity for the industry to identify and cultivate the skills and competencies essential for the adoption of decarbonization-related technologies. Therefore, it is crucial to invest in training and upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

Given the ongoing technological transformation, it’s highly encouraging to see that maritime organizations prioritize the promotion of cyber wellness. Cyber wellness is integral to the overall well-being of seafarers, encompassing healthy online behavior and responsible usage of the internet and mobile devices while aboard a vessel.

INTERTANKO has provided comprehensive guidance, emphasizing three key principles of cyber wellness: Respect for self and others, safe and responsible usage, and effective management of non-work screen time.

Leadership and time management round out the top five priorities in addressing wellness. Leadership skills are invaluable for crewmembers at various levels, enabling them to take initiative, stay motivated in confronting onboard challenges, and perform optimally. Conversely, effective time management is essential for adhering to work and rest requirements, maximizing productivity, and maintaining a healthy balance between personal and professional life.

With regards to other factors, it is important that these have a high interest in wellbeing strategies. It is noteworthy that feedback from the industry indicates equal interest in four out of the five aspects of wellness: physical, intellectual, mental, and social. As for spiritual wellness, it’s encouraging to see a focus on respecting individuals’ beliefs, values, and ethics. Indeed, many organizations incorporate these principles into their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy, code of conduct, and organizational values.

In conclusion, the findings collectively suggest a holistic approach to wellness within the maritime sector, addressing diverse aspects of seafarers’ health and well-being, and highlighting the industry’s commitment to supporting the workforce through technological transformations and holistic wellness initiatives.

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