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Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) places spotlight on multi-tasking


Multi-tasking appeared to be the biggest distraction according to SHI

While seafarer vaccinations produced some improvement in the Neptune Chew Change Indicator, the SHI instead revealed seafarers were less happy with their workloads.

Overwhelming workload
What used to be a key skill turned out to be a bane onboard for seafarers today. Multi-tasking was a highly-valued skill set which facilitated efficiency; an individual could split their attention across more than one task simultaneously. However, the drawback of prolonged multi-tasking results in more errors from frequent focus switching and compromised attention. Proficiency will decline eventually.

According to SHI, the score for workload satisfaction dropped from 6.39/10 to 6/10. The most common reason was the pandemic, which resulted in more stringent regulations, procedures, and increased paperwork. COVID-19 restrictions have also led to more onshore queries about information onboard.

Essentially, paperwork alone was the Achilles’ heel; the largest distraction for any seafarer. Keeping up with it has worn seafarers out, that even the drive to take up new skills diminished. In extreme instances, vessel safety was compromised. Moreover, there was a communication misalignment between shore staff and crew, due to occurrences of asking for the same information repeatedly.

The bar set higher (unintentionally)?
During the pandemic times, some employers would have expected more from the multi-taskers. “Super-taskers” became the unofficial term for those who were assigned more responsibilities. In 2015, there was a test which put people through a driving simulator while at the same time memorising words and solving math problems. Most of the participants did much worse than their individual task test scores. Only a small percentage of participants could multitask without major effects to their performance.

On a realistic front, should employers cut seafarers some slack in their discharging of duties? The stakes are higher on both safety and health fronts with the pandemic’s pressure. Be it multi-taskers or super-taskers, both categories of seafarers need substantial focus and energy. Employers should re-evaluate their communications processes and expectations of the crew.


Crewing Online News Team
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