The findings of the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report by the Mission to Seafarers show a positive start to 2024, with an overall increase in happiness from 6.36 in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 6.94 out of 10 in the first quarter of 2024.  This was driven by a positive trend across all the aspects of seafarer happiness covered by the survey during this period.

In contrast to the consistent decline observed in 2023, the first quarter of 2024 Seafarers Happiness Index report depicts a mixed but cautiously optimistic rise in satisfaction among seafarers, shedding light on the positive and negative aspects of seafaring life.

The Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI), which is a quarterly survey undertaken by the Mission to Seafarers, supported by Inmarsat and delivered in association with Idwal and NorthStandard, reveals that the positive shift in seafarer wellbeing reflects improvements in several areas.

These include enhanced financial security through fair wages and timely payments, fostering job satisfaction and camaraderie through positive crew relationships, as well as improved connectivity facilitating better communication with loved ones.

The report highlighted that seafarers reported the benefits of supportive company policies and leadership initiatives promoting crew wellbeing through access to recreational facilities, shore leave, high-quality culturally tailored food, and the prioritisation of health and safety concerns.

Additionally, comprehensive training programmes have further bolstered seafarer competence and professional development.

However, the report also highlights persistent challenges that will require systemic reforms to improve seafarer wellbeing.

These challenges include addressing work-life balance issues such as extended contracts and limited shore leave, which contribute to excessive workloads, stress, and fatigue.

Substandard living conditions, connectivity issues-though improved-remain an issue, and disparities in access to welfare facilities are significant concerns.

Moreover, poor management practices, including inadequate leadership and discrimination, alongside limited career advancement opportunities and predatory recruitment practices, continue to impact seafarer satisfaction.

A pressing issue highlighted in the first quarter of 2024 is the persistent allegations of fraudulent working hours reporting, resulting in inadequate rest periods and compromised safety standards.

Seafarers are increasingly expressing unease and scepticism toward reported working hours’ accuracy, with a reluctance to speak out against potential misconduct.

Andrew Wright, secretary-general, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “After the depressing slump in seafarer happiness that we witnessed in 2023, it is encouraging to see a brighter start to 2024. We are cautiously optimistic that this points towards a better year ahead for seafarers, but sustained improvement will require meaningful action.”