At last week’s Hellenic American Maritime Forum in Athens, there was a presentation by Captain Apostolos Skempes of Arcadia Shipmanagement entitled “Preventing offensive or hurtful behavior in the maritime workplace”. He outlined various strategies and policies employed by Arcadia to reduce abusive practices within the company, and offered suggestions for preventing negative impacts, both on shore and at sea:
- It is important that shore staff and seafarers are aware that complaints of bullying or harassment, or information from staff relating to such complaints, will be dealt with fairly, confidentially, sensitively, AND promptly.
- Complaints should be investigated promptly and objectively, on the basis that shore staff and seafarers will not normally make an accusation, unless they feel seriously aggrieved.
- Companies investigating claims of harassment and bullying should consider all the circumstances and conduct an objective investigation before reaching a conclusion.
There are many humane reasons why workplace conditions are critical to a company’s success. Cruelty, intimidation, and fear stifle creativity and loyalty (as to the latter, after the panel a security provider walked up to Captain Skempes to mention that disgruntled employees are a company’s greatest vulnerability.) It is important to expect respect- and to give it!
A company’s most valuable assets are its people; it is important to build and nurture a team. You don’t necessarily need a ping pong table or a dart board, but a sense of collegiality goes a long way to creating an environment that is productive and profitable.
And a cup of kindness goes a long way…