MASSOP considered the Tavistock Institute principles of job design, which suggest that job design should provide for:
2) A meaningful task,
3) Optimum work cycle,
4) Control over work standards and feedback of results,
5) Preparation and auxiliary tasks,
6) Use of valued skill and knowledge,
7) Contribution to end product. It was felt that some of these points are clearly missing from jobs on board ship.
Variety is often difficult to introduce and the seafarer does not see his contribution as meaningful in many organisations. The work cycle is often not optimum either for the individual or the task. Watchkeeping routines seven days a week can be difficult and long sea service periods do not fit in with modern lifestyles for most people.
But it is perhaps in the last four of the above Tavistock Institute points that the ISM Code perhaps worsens the situation in many or most companies. Seafarers in general no longer can believe they have control over work standards and there was no involvement in the preparation of the procedures - many seafarers have told MASSOP that they believe the ISM Code manuals and documentation were "dumped" on most ships with no consultation. There is usually no feedback except in the negative sense – i.e. when non-conformities occur.
These points were discussed in seminars given by David Mottram and in one particular case, brainstorming sessions were held to try to provide ideas. The general feeling was that the only possible solution to the problem that many of these points were clearly missing from jobs aboard ship, was to provide more direct involvement of the ships staff in decision making - ie onboard ship management teams and greater levels of decentralisation. It was also felt that seminars should be regularly given for office and shore staff where job design principles could be discussed. At these seminars all staff, in both sea and shore positions - and at all levels - could be made more aware of the advantages that could be obtained from better job.
We would like your views by taking part in the poll on the MASSOP website. You can check the features you feel are a problem and get instant feedback on the views of the others that have taken part. You can also give your views. The results and analysis of the results will be given in a future MASSOP newsletter.
The poll is at http://www.massop.com/jobdesignpoll.htm