Written by: Alexander Wardwell
Think of the Consequences. Take responsibility. Speak out! Live our values. These four core messages are the pillars of HFS's new AllOnboard programme.
As a dedicated unit responsible for the wellbeing of about 1,500 seafarers and the efficient operation of 35 vessels, Höegh Fleet Services (HFS) has always recognised the value of skilled crews. In an industry characterized by increasingly strict regulations, we have recently launched AllOnboard, an exciting new initiative. It is designed not only to change how the entire organisation thinks about safety and the environment, but to re-enforce the importance of staying in compliance with both maritime regulations and HFS guidelines.
AllOnboard is about Höegh culture and attitudes. It's about motivating the entire organisation to take responsibility for their actions, which will make everyone's job easier and safer. The programme aims at building a stronger sense of teamwork and cooperation. We believe that the true value of AllOnboard will be its positive and fundamental effect on how we all think about our roles in the organisation.
To ensure that everyone at HFS is thinking about safety and the environment in the same way, the programme has involved the entire organisation, from senior Höegh executives in Oslo to junior seafarers at sea, experienced safety and environment personnel within HFS and crew managers living and working overseas.
These “cascading” values began their journey with senior managers in Oslo, who passed them on to superintendents and crew managers, who are in the process of sharing these values with seafarers onboard. In addition to building an organization with a shared purpose, the seminars themselves have already proven to be effective team-building exercises, helping crew members to work more closely together.
AllOnboard is built on four core messages, each developed to get people thinking about their role in a new way. “Take responsibility” is about being aware and taking action. We all have responsibility to ourselves and each other – to our families, friends, co-workers and fellow seafarers that extends beyond the minimum requirements of our jobs. Sometimes, we see something that's wrong – a small oil spill on deck or an emergency escape hatch lashed down, but because it's not specified in our job, we may look the other way. Taking responsibility is about thinking proactively and taking the initiative to act. We all have a shared responsibility to look after each other, ourselves and the vessel.
Too often, silence can result in injury. “Speak out!” is about allowing ourselves the freedom to call attention to potential risks. For example, a faulty light fixture can be disabled by turning off the light, but it is also a fire risk that should be reported. Yet “Speak out!” also applies to “near accidents”. Perhaps during a port call, a support wire fails, sending the gangway crashing down on the wharf. No one reports the incident because no one was injured, but at the next port call, a similar accident occurs on another gangway, and someone is injured.
Had the first incident been reported by seafarers present so that improved maintenance procedures could have been implemented on all Höegh vessels, it might have avoided the second. We all have a responsibility to speak out – to improve everybody's safety!
Think of the Consequences
What are the consequences to certain actions? What are the consequences to doing nothing? “Think of the Consequences” is about being forward-thinking, of linking behaviour with consequence, action with results. For example,while in port you see an open paint can on the gangway. What if it falls and strikes someone below? What if its contents spilled into the water? Training ourselves to see the connection between action (or inaction) and consequence is a core message for AllOnboard – one that supports not only our obligation to take responsibility, but our freedom to speak out.
Live our values
Tying these core messages together is “Live our values”. HFS's values are as follows: Committed, Competent, Cooperative and Honest & Straight-forward. While these are powerful words, they mean nothing unless they are translated into action and become a part of our everyday life. HFS values have been designed to bring the entire organization together, working for common goals. And they apply to everyone – on shore and at sea.
While the first phase of the AllOnboard programme has been a success (about one third of all seafarers have completed the first phase of the programme), there is still a lot of work to be done. After all, changing attitudes doesn't happen overnight. Indeed, our challenge now is to develop tools to reinforce these core messages so that we can all ensure the continuous improvement of our organisation. It is important to understand that living by our values and the core messages of AllOnboard is not only about our relationship with our colleagues, but vital to the future success of the company in an increasingly complex and demanding world.
We believe AllOnboard provides a strong framework for making the right decisions. In the end, the success of AllOnboard ultimately comes down to each one of us and the decisions we make.