The 6 gold nuggets – ensuring a good working environment and well-being on board

Many years of research into occupational health and safety have identified various general issues that have a considerable impact on how individuals see their mental working environment. These are:

Balance between demands and resources
Always ensure there is a suitable balance between demands and resources. Demands must not either be too great or too small and it should be possible to cope with the volume of work in the time available at work.


Ensure that personnel have as much influence as possible in organising their own work and preferably involve them in the more long-term work planning.


Social support
Ensure that frameworks are established for personnel to get social support from their shipmates and management. This could for example be done by promoting social activities or allowing crew to work together on dealing with their duties.  It is also important for ship’s management to be aware of the need of crew for social support.  This can be achieved for example by routinely asking individual personnel about how they feel, etc.


Meaningful work
It is important for crew to be able to see the purpose of what they are doing.  Regularly question the purpose of the various jobs carried out on board a ship.  Do they all have a purpose or are some of them superfluous? Preferably involve crew in these considerations. This helps promote their own perception of the purpose of their work and their perception of being able to influence the organisation of their duties.


Ensure that crew are regularly briefed on the company's plans and strategies for the future so as to promote their perception of predictability.  It is especially important to keep crew briefed on plans, goals and strategies when there are changes afoot, or even rumours of changes.  At the ship level, it is important to brief crew on changes to sailing plans and the reasons for these.


Recognition and feedback
Ensure that good work done by individual crew is recognized, especially if they have made extraordinary efforts.  Rewards need not necessarily be financial or promotion.  It is also important to get positive feedback on efforts at work by way of a pat on the shoulder, being mentioned to company management or in some other way show that their efforts are appreciated.


Read more about well-being in the book A good working life at sea

Chapters deal with:

  • Communication and information on board
  • Conflict management on board
  • Preventing social isolation


Chief psychologist
Søren Diederichsen
+45 3311 1833
+45 2785 7335

I can help you with

  • Crisis counseling
  • Employee retention
  • Reduction of sickness absence
  • Raising motivation and efficiency
  • Raising safety behavior
  • Co-operation between ship and office
  • Supervisor coaching and training
  • Organizational development
  • Mapping of well-being
  • Stress handling
  • Customized training