Preventing Crew Turnover

A common issue in the maritime sector, and specifically the yacht industry, is the high turnover of crew in lower ranks. A high volume of crew turnover is far from ideal for everyone involved with disadvantages including owners having to introduce themselves to new faces on a frequent basis, repetition of training/development and a decreased sense of stability for other members of staff. Recent surveys have estimated that close to 50% of yacht crew leave within the first year with 38% of senior staff (Captains, Officers, Chief Engineers etc.), 69% of junior staff (Deck and Stewards) and 65% of chefs, all moving on within 12 months of starting the role. So, with the industry growing and so many job opportunities on the market, how do you solve this issue and encourage your crew to stay?


Not surprisingly, only a small number of crew have expressed that their main reason for leaving was related to their pay package. Most crew members have good base salaries, no outgoings and often enjoy tax-free living. However, it is worth mentioning that it can beneficial to keep crew motivated by rewarding long term staff with benefits such as longevity bonuses, periodical salary increases or charter tips.


Many crew members are placed on short term contracts to reduce costs. However, with long term financial implications such as the cost of recruiting, time spent retraining and overcoming mistakes (and even damage) made my new crew, short term contracts may not be a cheaper option after all. Lack of continuity onboard can result in a negative experience for guests, maintenance and crew. Longer contracts will promote stronger relationships creating a more pleasant environment.


Naturally, an ambitious and skilled crew member will look for progression in their role, and without suitable progression routes in place staff members may be tempted to look elsewhere. In an industry that is constantly growing the amount of job opportunities on the market have risen too, so it’s likely that if your staff are looking elsewhere they will most probably find something. It is therefore important to be clear about career goals and likely progression during the hiring process, so candidates know what to expect from the position.

Leadership Skills and Training

Encouraging staff to take part in continued training is not only beneficial for your business but is also good for your workforce. Training staff and developing their leadership skills can improve your yacht’s performance, profit and staff morale. Not only does ongoing training result in better customer service, increased work safety practices and productivity improvements, it also demonstrates to the crew that you value you them enough to invest in their careers. By making you team feel valued you will increase the likelihood of loyalty and therefore retention.

Moreover, training further benefits staff by allowing them to acquire new skills, increasing their contribution and building their self-esteem. As mentioned earlier, it also increases their ability to progress to positions with better prospects and/or better pay should the opportunity arise.

This article was written by Seahaven Maritime Academy.