HR is commonly associated with the niche area of hiring, termination of contracts as well as developing and managing policies and procedures. As such, the HR role steers away from its core function which is to attract, engage and retain competitive talent. Onboard Superyachts and Megayachts Heads of Departments are responsible for all of the above. The concept of HR and its function in the workplace has evolved so much over the years that the term “HR” is now more commonly being substituted by “People and Culture” to reflect the true nature of its purpose which is advocating for its employees and their happiness.
Superyachts should be operated as a business and have the infrastructure set up correctly so that their procedure and processes are streamlined thereby enhancing the overall running of the superyacht/megayacht.

Heads of Departments (HODs) should be putting people and culture at the heart of what they do.
I am now regularly hearing from HODs how difficult it is to find and retain quality crew. Yachts are spending substantial amounts of money on recruitment as a result of high crew turn over and appear to be ignorant of the fact that maintaining crew engagement is vital.

If Heads of Departments implement the necessary strategies to improve the crew culture on board, crew morale and engagement will essentially increase. If they could simply master this skill, they would not only be profiting financially but would also would have a positive living-workplace. Below I have provided a sample of my go to sucess strategy to crew retention:

1. Initiating a people and culture operations onboard and providing Heads of Department with the correct leadership training.

The leadership training should go one step further than downloading the stock standard leadership content: it really needs to look at the individual as a person and the leadership style they subscribe to and how this impacts the rest of the crew.
I have been facilitating this style of training for the past 5 years and the results are advantageous. The training is reformative in the areas of personal and professional development however, it does require key soft skills to be able to successfully reap the benefits of crew training.

2. We all have different workplace behavioural styles therefore we need to be managed differently.

It is important to recognize that we each have a unique behavioural style. Understanding our own style and the style of others is a significant advantage. We are constantly interacting with others, sometimes appropriately and sometimes not. Regardless of our work role or chosen career, it is of utmost importance to reflect on our behavior and the impact it can have on others.

Learning what our behavioral style and how others perceive us is the single most powerful tool you can have in any workplace environment. Research from Boston College, Harvard University and the University of Michigan found that soft skills training, like communication and problem-solving, boosts productivity and retention 12 percent and delivers a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention.

The profiling tool (DISC ADVANCE) is highly effective in observing and analysing behaviours. The advantages of this tool is that it is specifically designed to assess behaviours within a workplace setting. 
As Marcus Buckingham asserts “Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield.”

Crew are the most valuable resource and I have my concerns on how crew are being managed whether HODs are appropriately trained to do so?

The Solution 

Due to the ongoing frustrations around managing crew The Crew Coach has specifically designed a program to close this gap.

The Crew Coach offers a unique People and Culture service that aim to close the “HR” gap in yachting and offer a more robust and up to date service for the yacht and it’s personnel.
The key areas that The Crew Coach focuses on as part of their People and Culture Services: Selection, Learning & Development and Performance Management, Succession Planning and Reward and Recognition. All these components are integral to ensuring your personnel are fully engaged and working at their optimum performance level. Below I have briefly described what these services entail:


Interviewing skills, assessing personality characteristics
Policy, procedures and tools for effective recruitment and selection

Learning and Development 

Leadership, Team Building, Emotional Intelligence, On board Culture, Conflict Resolution

Performance Management 

Measuring the soft skills, strengths and weaknesses of crew and implementing the policy, processes and tools in improving crew performance and dynamics. Conducting regular performance reviews and ensuring the information is translated into realistic outcomes.

Succession Planning 

understanding and meeting the future needs of the yacht. Coaching and mentoring programs for crew wanting to transition into leadership roles.

Reward and Recognition

Understanding the value of work and implementing the correct performance recognition strategies to reflect this value

Promoting staff retention

Acknowledging appropriate professional behaviour
Reinforcing the yacht’s culture and values through demonstrated behaviours.

It is time we provide crew with the right support so we can maintain team cohesion and improve the management of personnel. At the end of the season it is crucial that an assessment of the overall operations is assessed and an action plan is developed in moving forward.