Counting the cost of crew turnover

The Islander – January 2014

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Crew turnover an ongoing issue

So how much does replacing a crew member actually cost? Crew agents, insurance, new uniform, travel, not to mention severance – the list goes on.  And what about your time, the impact on crew dynamics, training? It’s a sad fact of our industry today that crew turnover is an ongoing issue, regularly reaching 50% and more over a season and costing on average €10,000 - € 15,000 a time.

Ultimately if the boat is mothballed for the winter and crew are let go, or the owner feels their face doesn’t fit, there’s little that can be done. However, the reality is that for many yachts the majority of crew turnover, particularly mid-season, is more about personalities and leadership than owners’ whims. If you are working with the “dream” team, you are highly unlikely to be looking for a new job mid-season. You may find yourself with a “bad” apple, but interestingly, it is rare for a new crew member to start the job with the “wrong” attitude. So what causes the change?

Impact Crew ran a workshop at the Monaco Yacht Show this year, bringing together a range of industry professionals, from agents to crew, to identify solutions to the issue of crew turnover.

Many crew join a yacht for its prestige, its itinerary, or for promotion; but end up leaving because of poor leadership and / or poor crew relations. Unfortunately many senior crew have had little training in how to lead. You either follow your gut, or copy the last senior officer you thought was pretty good at it. Senior crew have a huge impact on how crew are feeling, with good leadership enabling crew to feel motivated, recognised and valued.  They can create a fair working environment and take responsibility for nipping niggles in the bud, before they become major issues. Leadership is not a case of “you have it” or “you don’t”, there are tricks of the trade we can all learn.

Knowing the individuals you are sharing your working and living space with is something that happens as the season progresses. The crew either gel into a well-oiled machine and you have one of your best ever seasons; or they don’t and you breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over! Through formalised team development it is possible to impact on how a crew develops and to speed up the process of forming them into a highly motivated and productive crew.

Yes, we need to get the recruitment process right, but finding the right crew member is more than just their experience and tickets; a major element is their personality and habits that they bring to the yacht. If we don’t have the luxury of finding out what they are like before they join us, let’s at least get to know them sooner rather than later.

Crew are at the heart of our business, they can make or break a guest’s experience. So invest in your crew at the start of the season, benefit for the rest of it and save time and money in the bargain. Contact Karen Passman, founder of Impact Crew and find out what they can do for you and make this your best ever season yet!