Where are the Metrics for Morale in Shipping?

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Moral is not something that is recognised by today’s modern accountancy trained managers who are good at counting the beans and just take decisions in too much of the marine or perhaps in any industry nowadays.

What is morale?

Where are the metrics by which this concept can be measured? And if it cannot be shown to register in the accounts, then it must be ignored, affirm these product of business academies, who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

The three dots

Three unconnected items contribute to these thoughts.

First a major oil company, one which has been demanding that officers in its chartered ships have sufficient experience in rank, thus inflicting a nightmare on the operators of the ship who have to crew them. Thus throwing these young people, who probably hoped for a mite more security, onto the jobs market of qualified but inexperienced would-be officers, and are struggling to get that first job.

Although a surplus of junior officers is a drain on your balance sheet at a time, but if it were possible to quantify the loss of goodwill in the fleet, and the long term loss of good young people it would easily offset these costs and will harm the company’s future prospects.

Secondly, there is the loss of morale in a major container line subsequent to its takeover by a more powerful rival.

Upon the integration of the two companies, it is wrong that the winner immediately and robustly imposes their systems and the senior staff of the other company will leave in droves, at a time when they are badly needed, simply as their morales were shot to pieces.

This then puts the other company in to trouble finding senior officers to make up the shortfall, and eventually existing people are dragged back from leave, made to work for longer tours of duty and everything goes miserable.

But they invariably fail to register the effect on morale and the blow to the pride and esteem which makes people go that extra mile for their ship and their company.

It is not just me saying this, but there is a growing belief that mergers and acquisitions, which accountants and lawyers view in such a positive light, rarely deliver what they promise, and the negative effects on the employees are the main reason for this failure.

Lastly, and only peripherally connected, were the recent celebrations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Evergreen.

Everything was stacked against the success of this shipping line, not least the might of the Far East Freight Conference, the high price of entering this new iteration in liner shipping and the difficulties of financing its development. But largely due to the sheer energy of the chairman Dr YF Chang (I always preferred “Captain”) who above all, understood the value of leadership and the contribution of morale and the pride in one’s company, it has justified its founder’s faith.

There are not too many like it, but Evergreen is an example of what can be done, despite the prevailing winds.

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Source: Seatrade Maritime

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