Had we had been asked this question a few years back, the answer would have been quite straight forward – the number one priority for most candidates when job searching (on yachts or ashore) would have often been salary. It was very much about numbers and ensuring the next job paid more than the last – this meant competition between companies and yachts again often came down to price; the company offering the higher salary secured the candidate.
However, we started noticing a shift in this attitude, especially amongst younger candidates, which has only become more apparent since Covid. But what has caused this change and what is it that candidates are looking for today in their job search?
The pandemic no doubt impacted each and every one of us, in many ways, including our work life. Sadly, many found themselves out of work and sometimes having a complete change in direction. Others in shore-based roles started working at home, which may not have previously been an option. Suddenly there was no long commute, more time spent with family and more time to think about what would be most important in work life moving forward.
In the past year, our conversations with candidates have stopped revolving around where they can go to find the highest salary and instead show a strong focus on work/life balance with factors including:
- Remote working: Obviously not so much of an option for yacht crew, though we do know of some senior crew who have been able to work for their owners in this way, especially if they have worked for a family on board for a number of years. Ashore, it is one of the most asked questions now – ‘am I able to work from home’? Candidates do not necessarily want to be full time out of the office, but most want a blend of both, so three days in, two days out for example.
- Annual Leave: On yachts as well as ashore, candidates want time. Time to spend with families, time to travel (albeit restricted currently!) and time to enjoy life outside of work. Rotation on board is becoming more and more popular, even at a junior level, and in shore-based companies we see offerings such as unlimited leave allowance or the ability to buy additional leave each year.
- Flexible Working: Again, linked to the above, those ashore are asking for companies to move away from the traditional ‘must be at your desk from 9-5pm’ – many want to be able to fit in school drop offs or gym classes, working the hours which suit their busy lives. We also see more requests for part time working or longer hours over fewer days.
- Healthcare/pension: Pension payments are still very rare on yachts, but is something which is now compulsory for UK based companies, which in turn has perhaps led to more candidates thinking about their future planning and sometimes requesting more than the basic. In comparison, healthcare (at some level) is very often provided on board, but rarely ashore. Especially given the pandemic, again it seems to be something that candidates are thinking about more and how they might be looked after by their company in ill health.
As well as benefits being considered prior to joining a company, it is also important to look at other factors which encourage staff retention and reduce turnover both on board and ashore.
We see similar themes coming up time and time again from candidates at the moment, and once again this does not seem to revolve around pay rises or money. Many talk to us about career progression and training – they want to feel like they are being invested in and developed. Company and yacht culture is also extremely important, especially on board where crew live and work together for extended periods, as well as company vision and values, where staff are able to feel part of the company journey.
Of course, the questions around salary have not disappeared completely, and paying below industry standard will not attract or retain the best candidates. However, from a recruiter’s perspective, it has been very interesting seeing the shift in focus towards wellbeing and work/life balance, and hopefully gives companies and yachts an insight into what candidates are looking for in today’s job market.
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