In today’s industry, high crew turnover is increasingly becoming a problem. Largely a result of burnout or interpersonal conflict among crew, it’s necessary that heads of departments are better equipped in implementing strategies to help mitigate against mental health risks, toxic working relationships and crew turnover.
Burnout has considerable effects, not only for the individual but for the yacht at large. It disrupts the team cohesion, engagement and overall morale, thereby impacting the level of service being delivered. Working in high stress environments for extended periods of time can certainly take its toll psychologically, and if it is not addressed, the effects can be long lasting.
The reality of yachting is that you do work long hours for months on end within some very challenging conditions, whether it be a lack of sleep, poor diet or the impact of isolation. All these factors contribute to an overwhelming sense of pressure that impacts the individual’s ability to cope with everyday stress-ors. In turn, this creates a sense of overload that can result in burnout.
To deal with the issue, yacht recruitment companies are having to source crew mid-season more regular-ly due to the firsthand effects of people leaving due to sheer exhaustion. It’s therefore imperative that we look at protective strategies that we can utilise on board to bring about an overall sense of psychological safety and well-being. This is where mindfulness comes in.
In layman's terms, mindfulness is the ability to live in the ‘here and now’, without judgement. It’s the act of paying attention to the present moment with full awareness.
Embracing mindfulness is believed to help cultivate an increased clarity of thought and an ability to re-spond to situations and events without being reactive. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a successful work environment, right?
Organisations of the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon are praised for their innovation when it comes to building a positive workplace culture. Google in particular is extremely passionate and committed to meeting its employees’ needs, as managers know this investment brings a greater return in employee engagement, productivity and work-life satisfaction. Well-known for sleep pods, meditation rooms and fresh food bars, its mindfulness program Search Inside Yourself has proven to bring about long term pos-itive change amongst its employees.
If we are able to exercise mindfulness on board, we will not only be able to build emotionally intelligent and resilient leaders and crew, we will also be in a better position to bring about psychological well-being which in turn will lead to crew longevity.
Here are my reasons as to why you should include mindfulness on board:
To Foster A Positive Working Relationship
Often when someone is talking, we are not actually listening to what is being said. Instead we are distracted by our own thoughts on when, how and what we are going to respond. By actively listening and giving the speaker your full attention, it will not only build on your skill of empathy but also help foster a positive working relationship.
To Tune into your Sense of Self
Mindfulness allows you the space to reflect on your needs, desires and aspirations on a deeper level. In addition, it facilitates creativity thereby giving you an opportunity to engage in creative problem solving and realigning yourself with your true purpose.
To Achieve a Sense of Calm
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, engage in mindfulness breathing. This will help regulate the parasympathetic nervous system and allow you to self-regulate your emotions and respond to situations rationally.
To Gain Clarity and Focus
Mindfulness allows you to articulate your needs and wants at a higher level. It is common to feel misunderstood and frustrated, but when you understand yourself better, you will undoubtedly be able to communicate more succinctly.
It can be very difficult to recover from burnout or negative working relationships as they have a noticea-ble knock on effect on our sense of self, personal relationships, career and health. It’s therefore in the interest of the crew to focus on preventative strategies, such as practicing mindfulness, rather than leav-ing it too late and reaching the point of a crisis intervention.
It’s evident that these strategies can effectively eliminate stress and help improve on the quality of life - we spend such a large proportion of our lives working, so why not make it a more meaningful and enjoy-able?
Image credits: Pixabay and Maarten de Louw at Unsplash