Boosting offshore workers´ quality of life
11. juli 2016
The uniqueness of living and working on-site presents a distinct set of Quality of Life issues for offshore employees.
Alice Hoffman - Sodexo VP of Global Business Development, offshore & marine
The uniqueness of living and working on-site presents a distinct set of Quality of Life issues for offshore employees. We chatted with Alice Hoffmann, Sodexo VP of Global Business Development, Offshore & Marine, to get a rundown on the key findings from Sodexo’s most recent Offshore Employee Quality of Life study.
Why is Quality of Life particularly important for offshore employees?
Alice Hoffmann: The biggest difference between offshore and other work environments is that employees are in the workplace virtually 24 hours a day – in an enclosed area, surrounded by the sea. Even when compared to other types of remote locations, such as mines, the offshore setting is very extreme because there is no way to escape – people can end up feeling restrained. There are many other contributing factors such as lack of privacy, isolation and monotony.
When and why was this study first launched?
A.H.: We began by identifying key Quality of Life factors in the offshore environment back in 2009 because we wanted to see how it applied to the lives of this specific group of people. Afterwards, rather than looking at it as something that is the same for everyone, we wanted to fine-tune our understanding of how it varies between generations and regions in the world. Our study, which we launched in 2012, goes a bit further and looks into how individuals perceive their offshore lives, what we can do, how we can progress – either by enhancing our current services or by proposing something new and better adapted to their needs.
"A growing trend is that employees’ expectations are much more personalized. People have different expectations – some are more independent, others sportier, or more social."
You are currently working on the fifth edition of this study, have any trends been gaining momentum over the years?
A.H.: A growing trend is that employees’ expectations are much more personalized. While they are currently very well looked after by their companies, often the onsite experience is the same for everybody – everyone has the same services, same food, same leisure activities, etc. This needs to change as we move forward. People have different expectations – some are more independent, others sportier, or more social.
If we look at healthy eating, for example, this is a very big trend that we see around the world. But if we examine the figures more precisely, the maturity towards nutrition or healthy eating varies quite a bit between generations and regions. We need to be careful not to equate big trends with standardization because while it may exist everywhere, it does not impact everyone in the same way. As younger generations are, in general, more educated or interested in the impact that diet can have on the body, they tend to have higher expectations around healthy eating options.
Employees also want to personalize their environment and have the freedom to make their own choices. To meet this need, we are working on integrating a paid premium coffee service – like they get on the high street– in addition to our standard coffee offer provided by employers. We have found that people are willing to pay more and invest in personalized options.
Is there a key area of improvement in the offshore environment?
A.H.: A big topic at the moment is living quarters. Aesthetically, rigs are very clinical and standardized and all rooms are exactly the same – constructed with steel and white plastic. But again, this survey shows that the needs and expectations around creating a comfortable and welcoming environment are growing. For a long time our clients weren’t concerned about this; but they now realize that there are solutions that can positively impact the mood, engagement, and productivity of the workforce.
"There is often a disconnect between decision makers’ perception of the offshore environment and what their employees actually experience on a daily basis. This study lets the employee voice be heard."
Is there a key takeaway from this study?
A.H.: The absolute biggest outcome of this survey is that we are able to raise our clients’ awareness about Quality of Life issues. As some decision makers have worked offshore very early in their careers or sometimes never at all, there is often a disconnect between their perception of the offshore environment and what their employees actually experience on a daily basis. This study lets the employee voice be heard.
A great example of this goes back to dining expectations. Our clients often think that their employees want all-you-can eat meal options; but our survey shows that only 29 percent of the workforce wants this, versus 45 percent who would really like to have access to a healthier food offer. Presenting these trends to our clients surprises them and makes them think and react differently. The wow effect is amazing.