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Work-life balance among cruise ship crews

A quantitative research approach

Bachelorarbeit 2010 142 Seiten

Tourismus - Sonstiges


Table of content



Author’s Declaration

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

1. Introduction
Structure of study
Aim of the study

2. Literature review
2.1 The Meaning of Work
2.1.1 Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs
2.1.2 Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
2.2 The Meaning of Life
2.3 Work- Life Balance

3. The Study
3.1 The modes of Acting
3.2 Research Methodology
3.2.1 Procedure and sample
3.2.2 Questionnaire Design
3.2.3 Data Analysis

4. Findings
4.1 Socio-demographic profile
4.2 Topic specific measures

5. Hypotheses testing

6. Work-life balance practices

7. Discussion and Findings

8. Limitations & further research

9. Conclusion

10. References

11. Appendix


The concepts of work-life balance are a popular and in nowadays one of the most extensively discussed areas in organizational management as a consequence of its association with individual benefits, e.g. prevent burn-out, and organizational costs. The core aim of this study is to examine the impact of the unique working and living environment of cruise ships towards the physical and emotional exhaustion of their crews. In order to explain these, the study investigates traditional theories of Maslow and Herzberg, considers real life experiences of current and former crew members and takes a look on the most common statements of work-life balance. Although a lot of research work has been done in this field there seems to be a need to extend those to seafarers.

In this paper a quantitative research approach has been used to expose knowledge about which factors influence, and to what extent they influence seafarers’ well-being in terms of the balance between work and life. 171 current and former crew members participated at an online questionnaire and four additional interviews have been conducted. Significant results were found throughout the study and its results indicated that even though some recreation facilities regulated by ILO, and provided by the cruise companies do already exist, there is a high need to continue developing practices to positively influence the relief of stress in order to ensure a balanced relationship between work and life at sea.

Word count: 16.055

Keywords: Work-life balance, Cruise ship crew, physical & emotional exhaustion


Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.

Author Unknown

No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.

Alfred North Whitehead

Writing this paper has been my highest academic challenge so far. Without the help, support, guidance and above all patience of some people this thesis would not have been what it is today. It is to them that I owe some gratitude:

I am especially grateful for the offered support by my thesis supervisor Prof. Dr. Petra Milde for her guidance, patience and support. She continuously assisted me with my entire work-process.

I also would like to thank all participants, around the globe, for taking part on my survey. Without their contribution, this paper would not have been completed. Thank you.

Another thanks towards my ex-girlfriend, Mary Ann A., and the lovely Rosmarie H., for assisting me with the translation of the survey and its results into Tagalog language. I would like to mention also my best mate, Christian A., who set up the online survey for me. Thank you guys.

Finally, I extend my thankfulness to all fellow students, especially Charlotte K. and Stefanie G., who went through this process with me. They have always been the source of problem solving and optimistic thinking. It helped a lot to share difficulties of writing within a group of such a great dynamics and characters.

Thank you. Chris

Author’s Declaration

It is hereby declared by the author that he is the sole writer of this thesis. He declares that no other sources than those cited have been used. This is a true copy of the thesis, including any required final version, as accepted by the authors’ examiners.

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List of Abbreviations

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List of Figures

Figure 1 Maslow's hierarchy of Needs

Figure 2 Herzberg's Two-Factor theory

Figure 3 "Taxonomy of Ethical ideologies"

Figure 4 The Modes of Acting

Figure 5 Illustration of Research Methodology

Figure 6 Age groups

Figure 7 Onboard department distribution

Figure 8 Average number of completed contracts

Figure 9 Means, standard deviations and correlations

Figure 10 Categories of correlations

Figure 11 Correlation of physically and emotionally exhaustion

Figure 12 Correlation of physically/ emotionally exhaustion and average working hours per day

Figure 13 Info-box: Seafarers' Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention, 1996 (No.180)

Figure 14 Correlation of physically/emotionally exhaustion and average length of contracts

Figure 15 Correlation of physically/ emotionally exhaustion and number of contracts

Figure 16 Correlation of physically/ emotionally exhaustion and constructive feedback

Figure 17 Correlation of physically/ emotionally exhaustion and supervisors sensitivity

Figure 18 Correlation of physically/ emotionally exhaustion and fell any symptoms of burn-out

Figure 19 Control variables

Figure 20 Correlation of physically/ emotionally exhaustion and how hard to work smiling

Figure 21 Accommodation of Crews (supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1970 (No.133)

1. Introduction

Every cruise passenger experiences the ever smiling, friendly faces, which care for all and everything. Working where others experience adventures, relax, restore their energies, and enjoy world-class services, has to be fun. It seems that working on a cruise ship is a very enviable job. But is it really? This paper examines the impact on personal costs, in terms of physical and emotional exhaustion, of performing outstanding service and work on cruise vessels for several months a year.

“Work-life balance” meets many criteria of a popular common phrase: It seems that everybody has at least a rough idea what is meant by the term; its use is connected to positive association rather than negatives and so it is quite easy to attach many factors – old as well as new ones- to its meaning. Therefore it is no wonder to meet in many Companies –well known- job arrangements, which are titled now Work-life balance arrangements. The most common statements are: more flexible and family friendly working hours, followed by sport and leisure time offerings, nutrition counseling, further job training and a higher service for families to assist finding a child day-care. Nevertheless the general traditional academic discussion about the relationship between work and the “rest of the life” stands above the balance of job and family. So the scope has changed from (expectant) mothers and, especially younger, kids in former times, towards a higher concentration of diverse fields of life and job (Resch, 2003).

Since there is no unified definition of the term, and within the academically and popular-science literature a multitude of different explanations and description exist, it is needed to define it by its single facets, Work, Life and Balance. Afterwards combine those to get a clear idea of the whole term.

Work: “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result; such activity as means of earning income; treated as a place where industrial or manufacturing processes are carried out” (Oxford dictionaries)

Life: “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death; a particular type or aspect of people’s existence; vitality, vigour or energy” (Oxford dictionaries)

Balance: “an even distribution of weight ensuring stability; mental or emotional stability; a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions” (Oxford dictionaries)

If we take all the various statements of the terminus Work-life balance together, it becomes clear that we are far away from a unified and consistent definition about it. The appellation can be understood at most as an identification mark of a certain field of topic, meaning that work-life balance marks a set of questions and topics to define the scope, coordination and integration of different fields of life (Resch, 2003).

It might seem abstract to talk about the importance of balance between work and life in times of economic struggle, when the G 8’s negotiating of how to minimize debts, but the current trend in all jobs points towards a higher performance with fewer resources. So work-life balance can be considered as a question of economical sanity rather than luxury during economically prospered times.

It also might be ways easier to consider the specialty of Work-life balance to any land based job rather than to the work onboard an ocean vessel.

Structure of study

This paper is divided into nine paragraphs. Including the main parts of an introduction to the field of study, a detailed literature review, an explanation and description of the actual study, certain practices of work-life balances, testing of the identified hypothesis, a discussion on the findings, identified limitations and a conclusion.

Aim of the study

This study’s aim is to explore the balance between work and life for crew members on cruise ships, and to identify factors of motivation among those seafarers. Afterwards the author will provide some practical opportunities in how to improve the balance between work and non-work of seamen and –women. Being constantly surrounded by the working environment, which means that employees can not separate work and private life, creates a much higher need for physical and psychological opportunities for relief of stress and all factors that help to perform the job tomorrow as good as it was performed yesterday.

2. Literature review

2.1 The Meaning of Work

The facet ‘Work’ gains more and more importance in today’s society. People spend ever more time learning for a certain job, train important skills and working itself. According to the definition of the Oxford dictionary ‘Work’ has a multitude of meanings and values to different nationalities and individuals. So for instance a working period of one year of an average German employee consists of 104 days off (considered a five-day working week), an average of 13 days of bank holidays and 30 vacation days, summing that up an average working year lasts 218 days – not included in this calculation are the days of sickness (Schaetzing, 2010), whereas a Japanese employee has the obligation of 236 days of full-time work, during a year (Gornick, Heron, & Ross, 2007). Also the average collectively agreed weekly working hours differ from nation to nation.

In comparison with that onboard it is of no meaning from which nation crew-members originate from. All have to perform a 7-day working week for several months.

According to Snir et al. “[…] work plays a central and fundamental role in the life of individuals[…]” (Snir & Harpaz, 2002). And since individuals are different from one another the degree of general importance of work differs from human to human. Work is important to the development and maintenance of a person’s identity (Quintanilla-Ruiz & Wilpert, 1991). So success in a job can lead to an improved interpersonal relationship and mental health, within and without the working environment. Those relationships are part of most need theories, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which will be discussed later in this chapter. It also influences the perception of an individual within its social environment. Nevertheless working does not just represent the essential role of earning money to support the non-work part in a human’s life (financial wealth), it contributes to one’s sense of personal identity and gives individuals a sense of being tied into a larger society, of providing social contact and of having a purpose in life (Basini et al. in Kronberg, 2003). And it is also an important component of character traits, such as decision making, satisfaction, loyalty, commitment etc.

The importance of work as the central point of life can best be demonstrated by the ‘lottery theory’, where people have been asked to imagine the following:

They would win a large sum in a lottery, enough to support themselves without any need to earn any more money. Than the question was raised, if they would continue working, or if they would not.

Depending on the different occasions and different nationalities the majority of interviewees, namely 65-95%, stated that they would continue working, because fulltime inactivity does not look very attractive in forms of self-actualization, which represent the highest human desire. Psychological literature accounts that outcome with “the importance of work to individual mental and emotional well-being” (Vecchio, 1980; Harpaz, 2002 in Kronberg, 2003, p. 1)

In the following two important theories concerning motivation at work will be examined.

2.1.1 Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs

The American psychologist Abraham Maslow is considered to be one of the most important founders of human psychology, who aspired mental health and investigated the human ‘self-realization’. His scientific work “Motivation and Personality”, published 1943 and extended in 1970, contained the 5 level model of human needs. His approach requires progressive satisfaction of these hierarchical needs. Even if his whole work was by far more complex, the “Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs” became very popular in order to illustrate the motivational factors of human needs. “This hierarchical approach is underpinned by rigorous psychological theory of human motivation” (Maslow cited in Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006, p. 934) . These needs are classified into a variety of categories, as shown in figure 1.

Each level builds up on the fulfillment of the level below. Considering this model, humans tend to satisfy their needs of the lowest level before reflect upon a level of higher needs. That means as long as a desire of a lower rank not meet its approval, the desire of a higher level need does theoretically not exist.

“Within the hierarchy of human needs, human well-being is bounded by the fulfillment of a given set of ascending needs. Human effort is exerted to achieve each level” (Maslow in Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006, p. 935). Physiological needs embody the basis of the hierarchy and are seen as essential to the existence of human beings, such as food, water and air. Maslow believed that, once a given level of need is satisfied, it does no longer act as a motivator. Therefore the highest need that humans aspire is self-actualization. “All behavior is therefore motivated by the ultimate desire to fulfill one’s own potential” (Maslow in Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006, p. 935) . Needs are met through so called ‘satisfiers’, which differ from culture to culture and from individual to individual. A closer look on ‘satisfiers’/’motivators’ is given in the part of the ‘Two-Factor Theory’ by Herzberg, later in this paper.

The most necessary need is classified as basic or physiological need and consists of food, water, air, sleep and sex. “Unsatisfied basic needs cause feelings of physical pain and illness, […]” (Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006, p. 935).

The second set of hierarchical needs is identified as safety needs. These needs represent the psychological stage rather than the physiological, including law and order, protection against dangers, regularly wage, and shelter. Within the approach used in this paper, the attainment of safety needs is not specifically dependent on the level of income. Indeed, other than basic needs, wage levels are not specifically important when talking about work-life balance onboard cruise ships. The next level is labeled as the affiliation needs. They take the form of family, friends, relationships, love, and communication. “Humans desire to belong to groups such as clubs, work groups, families or gangs. This level of needs incorporates the need to feel (non-sexual) love and acceptance by others” (Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006, p. 936). Following and closely connected to the prior stage are the (self-) esteem needs. At this stage it needs to be differentiated between self-esteem and recognition of others. Once people achieved the belongingness to others they seek for acknowledgments from them. These needs are for example status, respect, recognition, financial wealth, success and influence. Finally, once the previous mentioned needs have been satisfied a person can become self-actualized. This need represents a continuous process within human life. It is self-fulfillment of one’s own potential, including, individualism, perfection, creativity and morality.

“Maslow notes that the dominant need is always shifting so that a self-actualized person does become hungry and tired and this basic need becomes priority” (Maslow cited in Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006, p. 936).

Since the natural ships’ hierarchy is comparable with military structured chains of command, top to bottom, it will prevent by its nature, that the majority of seafarers will ever achieve the highest level of self-actualization, while performing their job tasks onboard.

Figure 1 Maslow's hierarchy of Needs

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Source: (Jobber, 2004, p. 83)

Criticism of Maslow’s Theory

Many professionals criticize Maslow’s theory in terms of age. 50 years ago the world looked completely different and these needs are not up-to-date. According to Luthans (1998) it makes management aware of employees different needs at work, but it is not the final answer in work motivation (Luthans, 1998).

In order to achieve a balanced work-side it is necessary to take a closer look on what satisfies and what motivates people at work. Considering the above mentioned statements an extension of Maslow’s need theory would be more/ better applicable in terms of performance at work through motivation and satisfaction. Therefore in the following ‘Herzberg’s Two Factor theory’ will be discussed.

2.1.2 Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Since the service industry is, as already explained above, a high demanding working environment and, according to Baum et al. (in Lundberg, Gudmundson, & Andersson, 2009), characterized as an anti-social working condition atmosphere, it becomes a major challenge for industries to find, recruit and keep good and qualified employees. Because in service it is all about the appearance during a face-to-face encounter, ”guests/ passengers perceived quality is closely related to employee performance” (Lundberg, Gudmundson, & Andersson, 2009, p. 890). Therefore the companies motivation practices towards their ‘front-line representatives’ is crucial to the overall success of the enterprise. Resulting that the tourism and service industry can be seen as the sectors with the most required employee-motivational-needs. Since individuals react differently to similar motivation practices, depending on the situation they do experience, those theories act not in favor for every employee in particular, nor does it present any detailed idea of how to motivate. It is rather “useful when studying the range of human motives to explain how the motives affect human behavior” (Lundberg, Gudmundson, & Andersson, 2009, p. 891). As in previous researches many different definitions of motivation can be found, the author choose Pinder’s (1998) explanation, who stated that motivation is “a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behavior, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration” (cited in Lundberg, Gudmundson, & Andersson, 2009, p. 891).

Herzberg’s Two-Factors theory, also named as ‘influential need theory’, refers to the two main types of motivational theories. Which are the ‘need theories’ and the ‘process theories’. Differences between those two are that the first is applied towards psychological and emotional aspects and the second tends towards cognitive processes, which act in favor of in-depth case studies. In the authors opinion ‘need theories’ provide a more applicable approach in order to gain “… understanding of work-life balance and respective motivational factors of cruise ship crews …”. Concluding that this paper concentrates on mainly applying the Needs-Theory approach, which is “based on the assumption that people’s needs provide the force, that directs action towards fulfillment of these needs” (Wright, 1989; Pinder, 1998 in Lundberg, Gudmundson, & Andersson, 2009, p. 891). The respondents to and accomplishment of people’s needs (see Maslow’s hierarchy) at work, is the source of their motivation. In his Two-Factor theory, Herzberg proposes that those needs can be classified in two different sets, namely motivators and hygiene factors, which can either, be satisfied or dissatisfied. The first one is thought to cause good attitude and well-being within the employee itself. Therefore those factors are generally related to job contents, such as recognition, achievement, responsibility advancement and work itself. According to Herzberg, the opportunity given to human nature, namely “try to become all that they are capable of becoming[…]” (in Lundberg, Gudmundson, & Andersson, 2009, p. 891), is the only way to achieve motivation by increasing satisfaction. In reverse, the hygiene factors are unrelated to the job itself and are comparable to Maslow’s lower needs. They are correlated towards the working conditions surrounding the job. Thus they are caused by company policy and are believed to cause dissatisfaction. Furthermore their abscence, such as appropriate salary, job security and interpersonal relationships, can lead to bad attitudes and despondency. However, the presence of one does not necessarily mean the succession of the other whereas the appearance of hygiene factors might prevent dissatisfaction and generate motivation up to a level of zero. Therefore they do not cause motivation at all. In turn the absence of satisfiers/ motivators, which represent Maslow’s higher needs, is not the source of dissatisfaction. It is seen simply as an lack of motivation to satisfy people’s desire for growth and achievement. Herzberg (1986) stated that the opposite of job satisfaction is a lack of satisfaction, and not dissatisfaction. And vice versa, the opposite of dissatisfaction is not satisfaction, it is rather no dissatisfaction. This can be demonstrated by using a simple example for the hygiene factors, working condition. Assuming that the new introduced Property Management System, which still contains some development bugs, breaks down on a busy embarkation day, the receptionist might be greatly dissatisfied since she has to extemporize all processes in order to check in the new passengers. On the other hand , if the the computer system works as it is supposed to, the receptionist will not be extremely satisfied by being thankful, it is rather something taken for granted.

To summarize, Herzberg’s theory has been used and been given credit from various researchers, for example Parson & Broadbride (2006); DeShields, Kara & Kaynak (2005); or Balmer and Baum (1993). All of them agreed that job satisfaction results in different reasons than dissatisfactions. While one gets supported from motivators, the other is caused by missing hygiene factors (Locke in Kronberg, 2003). Furnham, Forde and Ferrari (1999) discovered during a study that extraverts favor the importance of opportunity to growth and achievement at the workplace, whereas introverts strive for hygiene factors. Since the work in the service industry requires a high degree on working with people, managers are better off when introducing and maintaining processes that keep the motivators high.

Figure 2 Herzberg's Two-Factor theory

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Source: (Collins, Exploring Business, Chapter 7- Section 3: Motivating Employees, 2010)

As well-being can be defined in many different ways, it can also be measured in many different ways. So a list of different components needs to be taken in consideration when trying to evaluate well-being. One, out of many examples, would be Nussbaum’s (2000) listening, including emotions, bodily integrity and health, social basis of self-respect, freedom from discrimination, and control over environment (Clarke, Islam, & Paech, 2006).

2.2 The Meaning of Life

For thousands of years philosophers, academics and scientists tried to examine the depth of life. And an equal amount of articles, papers, theories and books have been published ever since. What can be said without any science or literature about life is, that it has the primary function of physical survival in all kinds of forms.

Crumbaugh and Maholick’s (1969) ‘Purpose in Life’ (PIL) test is till today the almost entirely empirical study fundament of meaning and purpose in life. This 20-item test has been used in order to “measure an individual’s experience of meaning and purpose in life.[…] Examples of the 20 items include: "I am usually: completely bored (1) — exurberant, enthusiastic (7), "With regard to suicide, I have: thought of it seriously as a way out (1) — never given it a second thought (7), …” (Adler, 1997) .

Furthermore “Reker and Peaccock (1981) developed a multidimensional measure of meaning and purpose in life based on Frankl’s (1978) theory of ‘will to mean’ (Reker, Peacock, & Paul, 1987). Their theory consists of the following seven dimensions: Life Purpose, Existential Vacuum, Life Control, Death Acceptance, Will to meaning, Goal seeking and Future Meaning. According to Erikson (1963) Life is linked to the development of social status.

“Meaning for the adolescent, young, and middle-aged adult is centered on establishing a stable identity, forming intimate relationships, and being productive and creative. The task of late life is to develop a sense of integrity, an appreciation of why and how one has lived”

(Reker, Peacock, & Paul, 1987).

According to the discussed topic, “Work and Life onboard cruise vessels”, Life refers to the time the seafarers spend not on being on duty, namely their time off work. As mentioned above the depth in regard of content of the topic life seems to be infinite. Therefore the term ‘life’ will only be used in respect to the crew’s free time during the length of an onboard contract.

2.3 Work-Life Balance

An introduction of the general meaning of work-life balance is essential in order to understand its link to the cruise industry.

The theory of work-life balance is described as “acceptable levels of conflict between work and non-work demands. This will usually involve managing competing demands for resources” (Greenblatt, 2002, cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 277). The discussion of most resources mainly observed are three different groups: temporal, financial, and control. Another one, not as much discussed as the ones just mentioned are the “personal resources, including the physical, psychological, emotional, and social resources available to individuals” (Greenblatt, 2002, cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 277). Those lastly mentoined personal resources are going to be the main investigating factors of this paper.

Today’s structure of society is very dynamic. Meaning that organizations and their environments are constantly changing, therefore the balance of work and life is constantly changing, too.

Work-life balance practices have become a popular phenomenon in all kinds of companies, they represent “organizational efforts to improve workplace well-being through the provision of services and resources” (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010, p. 25). Those practices are seen as kind of shield against employees getting stressed out by (to) high job demands (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010). “Stress is defined as the physiological and psychological reaction, either consciously or subconsciously, to a perceived threat or undesirable condition beyond one’s immediate capacity to cope” (Cranwell-Ward cited in Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010, p. 26).

In academic literature it is said that work-life balance allude to the coordination-conflicts between different areas of life, with a special interest towards work and non-work. Those conflicts are allocated as bidirectional dimensions: Work can intervene in non-work time (e.g. work-to-family conflict), as well as the other way around (family-to-work conflict). According to Schobert (2007) seven mechanisms dominate the work-life balance literature:

- Work-Family Conflict: Several social roles affect each others performances and obligations. Differences are set between time, emotional and attitude behavior conflicts.
- Work-Family Enrichment: One social role encourages another one.
- Work-Family Spillover: The appliance of certain skills, emotions, values and behaviors within one role can be transferred to another personal sector. Those can be positive (e.g. work-familiy enrichement) or negative (work-family conflict).
- Work-Family Balance: The status of individuals, which are equally involved and equally sophisticated with their roles within the work- and private life. As a result they will experience a lower level of stress and gain a high level of self-esteem (-respect), by coordinating the following three components: time balance, invovement balance and satisfaction balance.
- Accomodation: The accomplishment of one role will be reduced in order to meet requirements of anotherone. Psychological effects are common during this form of conflict.
- Compensation: The effort to adjust dissatisfaction of one facet with ambition and satisfaction within the other one.
- Segmentation: in order to balance the level of stress in one role a clear barrier of this and another role is set. Thus intervention of one with the other is minimized or completely avoided.

(Greenhaus & Singh, 2004)

Others argue that a clear definition of the term is anticipated by the lack of agreement about the several facets, especially the one of ‘balance’. They argue that balance can not be generalized for all individuals. It might mean something different to person A than to person B. In their opinions it is neccessary to first of all categorize the definition of the whole term of work-life balance “considering the ethical positions of various definitions of WLB” (Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 275). Forsyth (1980) classified two dimensions of definitions of Work-life balance according to their ethical ideologies.

- Situationist: People could be grouped according to their values and situational variables such as family structure, life stage, gender, career, or income level with varying definitions of WLB for different segments. Thus it is a individual and situation specific perspective, with a more ‘open’ definition of “balance satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home, with a minimum of role conflict” (Clark, 2000 cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p.277)
- Absolutists: “Achieving satisfying experiences in all life domains requires personal resources like energy, time and commitment to be well distributed across domains” (Kirchmeyer, 2000, cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 280). It is assumed that rules can be applied at any time to the whole work-society, rather than to the individual, in order to optimize outcome. It does not take into account the individual-specific factors, such as need, desire and situation. Another example for the absolutists definition is given by the U.K. organization Employers for Work-Life Balance, who believe that:

“Work-Life Balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society”

(cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 279).

All in all the absolutists’ approach can be seen as a ‘high idealism’ and ‘low relativism’ approach that simplifies its complexity, as illustrated in figure 3.

- Subjectivists: Definition will be concerned only with the individuals’ need, an “anything goes” type definition suggesting that as long as they are ‘happy’ with their Work-life balance, nothing else matters. Therefore “moral evaluations ultimately depend on personal perspectives” (Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 281) and on the total individual role system. According to Amundson (2001) influences of life consist of three dimensions. First he mentoins ‘length of life’, followed by the participation within a range of different activities – ‘the width of life’. And lastly ‘the depth of life’, represented by meaning and purpose of life (Amundson in Reiter & Morgan, 2007). Different life-styles and –rhythms of individuals need to be considered in order to define life-balance. Furthermore it is stated that the combination of different life areas, such as “work and play, physical and spiritual, social and personal, emotional and intellectuall” (Amundson cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 281), is another essential aspect when looking at work-life balance. Therefore a direct connection to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be drawn by assuming that people move to a higher level of satisfaction, the more happy they are.
- Exceptionists: In contrast, exceptionists definitions are more referred towards an “ethical egoism” by “maximizes my good – that is, action that benefits me the most or harms me the least” (Donaldson, Werhsne, & Cording cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 282). In turn it is the least popular definition approach, because it is associated with the habit of laziness in the direction of the willingness to work. This might be the cause why workers deny work-life balance pratices offered by their companies to not to loose the image of an “ideal employee”. “What most people mean by the term [balance] is less work, more play” (Burton cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007, p. 282).

(Reiter & Morgan, 2007)

Figure 3 "Taxonomy of Ethical ideologies"

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Source: D. R. Forsyth, 1980, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 175-184 cited in Reiter & Morgan, 2007

Regardless of the form of ethical ideology the main aim of balancing work and non-work is to satisfy the key needs, in respect of Maslows’ hierarchy, of individuals and dependents, through the arrangement of “perceived personal and work obligations”(Greenblatt in Reiter & Morgan, 2007).

According to the above mentioned statements the author will put a number of hypothesis forward, in order to investigate the actual balance of work and life onboard cruise ships. The main hypothesis, H0, is concentrated on the actual impact of physical exhaustion on the emotional level of seafarers, and if there exist an impact between the degree of emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue. Therefore:

Hypothesis 0 a: Physical and emotional fatigue have an impact on each other’s form of exhaustion among seafarers.

Hypothesis 0 b: Neither way of exhaustion affects the other in either way.

Especially the service industry is affected by high staff-turnover, which might by caused by its high factors of stress, resulting from performing outstanding work during long working hours. Therefore

Hypothesis 1 a : Average daily working hours have a great impact on seafarers well-being.

Hypothesis 1 b : Average daily working hours do not affect the overall level of emotional and

physical exhaustion.

Since all seafarers perform their job tasks on a seven-day working week basis, there is just little time for recovering. Thus continue the thoughts of the above mentioned hypothesis the following can be assumed:

Hypothesis 2 a : The average length of signed contracts influences the level of emotional and

physical exhaustion.

Hypothesis 2 b : The average length of signed contracts does not affect the overall level of

emotional and physical exhaustion.

Combining those two, the researcher was wondering if

Hypothesis 3 a : Crews get used to the demanding onboard ship environment over time and

cauterize the more contracts they have completed.

Hypothesis 3 b : It does not matter how many contracts have been completed the cycle of exhaustion remains the same.

Previous studies identified that extended levels of employees’ stress have a high impact on the well-being of the employees’ themselves as well as the well-being of the organization. To name just a few examples why it is worthwhile for a company to take care of the well-being of their employees are: an increase in motivation and moral (according to Maslow’s needs- and Herzberg’s two-factor theory, mentioned above), therefore a higher willingness to work harder, which in turn leads to higher quality of service, which again leads to a better reputation of the firm. Therefore it is vital for companies to improve the relationship between the mentioned work-stress factors, also called job demands, and their counterparts, the work resources, also known as job control factors (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010). Both parts have an enormous impact on the emotional and physical consequences of work. Whereas, concerning to the cruise industry, long working hours, the high workload, and the routine of tasks, at least in most departments, represent the job demand side. Respectively the job control side is influenced by a high level of skills, either interpersonal or technical ones, the opportunities to learn new things, limited range of creativity to perform a certain task, of course that differs also between the departments, and the strict guidelines on working procedure standards (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010). So by influencing either work stressors or the work resources, with for instance job control factors, it already balances the work-side itself. According to Ryan and Deci (2001) the involvement of employees in the designing processes of certain work tasks has a positive impact on stress reduction, which is connected to an increase of feelings of well-being. Employees tend to associate positive energy when given the opportunity to co-create job specific processes. Those activities can only be performed, when the supervisor is willing to coach rather than assuming that all new workers in the same position are able to follow the strict process-guidelines, which have existed ever since. Regarding this the following was assumed

Hypothesis 4 a : Constructive feedback has an effect on emotional exhaustion.

Hypothesis 4 b : Constructive feedback has an effect on physical exhaustion.

Since “work is inextricably intertwined with other aspects of life” (Watkins & Subich, 1995) it is essential to pay high attention to the ‘non-work’ part of life. Some common statements have already been addressed in the introduction. It is well known that leisure-time has a beneficial effect on satisfaction, psychological well-being, and health. The importance of social-relations at work as well as at time spent off work is one major fact. For many people this is covered by the gratitude of their families and/or friends. Since the majority of seamen and –women, however, are not provided with the lucky circumstances to enjoy the company of their family onboard, other ‘psychological parents’ become vital. In the most cases that is, or rather should be, a kind of a supervisor. Therefore

Hypothesis 5 a : Supervisors sensitivity towards their employees influences their emotional

well being.

Hypothesis 5 b : Supervisors sensitivity is a favorable attitude but does not influence the

emotional strength of employees.

In general social activities, such as volunteering in local projects or attending special events, have a major impact on the non-work facet. Chiang et al. argue that “work-life balance practices serve as a coping mechanism” (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010), they called it ‘organizational support resource’, for the following reasons: A healthy work-environment that is taken care off by the company produces the feeling of a responsible institution, which is interested in developing and maintaining a well-being environment by reducing stress factors for its employees (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010). This feeling “signifies to employees that their organizations care about their well-being” (Grover & Crooker in Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010). Thus workers recognize the support in terms of adaptability and personal adjustment towards the job. What in turn influences the working atmosphere and attitude to work. Therefore an effective work-life balance practice can be seen as an organizational resource. Employees need to perform well on their job, that is a basic prerequisite for a good relationship between a company and its staff, but if they are ‘physically and/or emotionally drained’ (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010) they rather are a dispensable workforce than an essential element of success of a company. For that reason it is of a high interest for companies to take care of their employees‘ welfare. If one considers that

Hypothesis 6 a : The appearance of symptoms of burn-out is the logical consequence of

physical and emotional exhaustion.

Hypothesis 6 b : Symptoms of burn-out are not caused by physical and emotional fatigue.

Of course there are also many departments that have relatively low, till none, contact to passengers. But that does not mean that those seamen and -women have a job with a lower stress-factor. In fact the jobs on cruise vessels can be roughly divided into three parts: jobs with no interaction between guests and crew, such as the engineers far below the waterline; departments with once in a while contacts to passengers, for instance nautical officers like the (Staff-) Captain or Safety Officer; and those with constant interaction with customers, such as bar or restaurant staff, housekeeping, excursion guides and so on. All of the mentioned departments act on a high job-demand level. The first mentioned have to ensure that the ship is moving without major technical failure and the others have to run the service operations on board, and a few act somewhere in between. Considering these issues it can be expected that irrespective to the field of work, ship crews suffer equally from the high required job performance. Thus

Hypothesis 7 a: Fatigue appears in all departments, regardless of the level of guest contact.

Hypothesis 7 b: Fatigue appears predominantly in departments with frequent guest contact.

While research on work-life balance has been increasing almost over the whole service sector, e.g. flight-attendants, nurses, hotel employees and so on, a lack of research of its impact and general applicability in the cruise sector is observed.

‘Work-life balance’ tends to separate work from life. But researchers argue that work is an, if not THE most important part of life.

The aspect of life is commonly recommended in terms of family rather than non-work facet. The researcher was interested if crew-members with family in their home countries tend to suffer quicker from emotional exhaustion than those without family, in terms of kids and spouse. Thus

Hypothesis 8 a: Intervals of emotional exhaustion of ship crews is connected to the social status, with regards to relatives of first degree.

Hypothesis 8 b: Intervals of emotional exhaustion of ship crews is unrelated to the social status.

3. The Study

First of all it needs to be said that this paper is not aimed to pick up the gender-, class-, race- and ethnicity- discussions, which are most of the time pointed out as the critical factors for onboard life. Nevertheless, at some level it is inalienable to not access the differentiations between some of the mentioned aspects in order to take a closer look at, for instance, the ability to perform well under pressure and the resulting exhaustion.

As Papathanassis (2009) found out, research specific on seafarers, in terms of relationship between Human Resource and/or Leadership towards the most valuable source of the industry, its people, is very scarce. To be more precise, only 7.7% of all academic cruise specific publications are concerned about that topic (Papathanassis, 2009). People only have those ‘ever-smiling-catalogue-crew-faces’ in mind when they think about Life onboard. And their direct or indirect experiences are stamped by the typical ‘love-boat’ cliché, that working where others do holiday has to be a relaxing workplace. This invisibility of the ‘real ships life’ might be the main reason for the lack of academic studies on that field. One of the most significant reports, which has never been published, was written in the late 1990s by a former captain, who was asked to take a closer look at Seafarers’ conditions on cruise ships – Goff, 1998.

The following attention of this study is put on the two forms of emotional labor: ‘surface acting’ and ‘deep acting’ (Hochschild, 1983) and their effect on personal cost of seafarers.

“In fact, shipboard labor is extremely hard for seafarers on cruise ships. This is probably the only point agreed by both trade unions and ship owners” (Zhao, 2002). Therefore recruiting agencies all across the world do not only have to find people which are capable to cope with a lot and hard work on a seven-day basis, but also have a high capacity to smile while doing so. According to Ward (2010) there have been 271 cruise vessels sailing the oceans in this year. According to CLIA (2010) the Cruise Industry experienced an annual growth of 7.4% from 1990 till 2009. Companies try to compete, among other factors, mainly on their prices. Ever bigger ships are being built in order to decrease operating cost per passenger. This kind of thought of ‘Economy of Scale’ leads inter alia to an unequal increase of crew members. Resulting that less crew-members have to keep the same warm and friendly smile, to make the companies guests feel welcome, while doing more work. Whereas the “traditionally, typical ratio” between crew and passenger “was 1:2 to 1:2.5 depending upon the position of the ship in the cruise market” (Zhao, 2002), today’s average crew-passenger ratio has increased to 1:2,72, conducted from all ships, in fact 222 vessels, categorized in Wards ‘Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2010’ as small ships (200 to 600 passengers) and higher. This represents an average increase of work of about 8,8% per crew-member. Ratios vary according to their ships segment in a broad range. The lowest ratio observed was with the 5 star rated ‘Silver Shadow’ and ‘Silver Whisper’ at a level of 1 crew-member per 1,3 passenger. The highest ratio detected, with 1 seafarer per (5) 4,8 passengers, was on the lowest rated cruise vessels with 2 stars, namely (‘easyCruise Life’) ‘The Iris’. The biggest ship currently cruising, ‘Oasis of the Seas’, has a ratio of 1:2,9. (Ward, 2010)

The wide range of different jobs onboard cruise liners, require many different divisions of labor along the onboard hierarchy. So it is quite normal that over 200 different job-positions in more or less 20 different departments have to be filled (Zhao, 2002). According to Zhao and the crew-manifest at hand, the most seafarers are employed within the Hotel Department. Since this area represents high guest contact, it fits best to examine Hochschilds’ concepts of ‘surface-’ and ‘deep acting’. There is no doubt that service work, which is based on interpersonal action and involves the “management of feelings and expression of emotion” (Hochschild cited in Zhao, 2002), creates psychological and physical stress. Nevertheless, this study is not only focusing on the direct customer service, it takes the whole crew into account. With 76 weekly working hours (based on the outcomes of the questionnaire) and, literally no escape from the workplace it seems to be extraterrestrial that they are still capable of smiling and leaving the impression that it is fun to work under those conditions. Is it really? And how do they do it? This will be explained in the next part.

3.1 The modes of Acting

“Previous qualitative researches have demonstrated that employees in a wide variety of service jobs engage in acting in order to conform to the service role” (Grandey, 2003, p. 93). No doubt all employees in service, but especially those at the front line, have to act in a way that on the one hand meets the companies’ requirements of service standards and on the other hand appears to the guest, or in this paper to the passenger, always approachable and friendly, in order to satisfy the customers’ expectations. “However, quality research shows that all employees find their true feelings do not always conform their roles” (Ashforth & Tomiuk cited in Grandey, 2003, p. 86). Therefore they take on different masks to produce the desired affective display. Both kinds of intervene in a specific situation are “dramaturgical approaches that effortfully modify displays” (Grandey, 2003, p. 86). Even, or rather especially, because they are not demonstrating real feelings, they have to muster lots of energy, which leads to emotional exhaustion. That in turn is considered as one of the main components of burn-out. The modes of acting can be devided into two different kinds of acting. Those will be discussed roughly in the following.

3.1.1 Surface acting

According to Hochschild surface-acting represents an inauthentic way “to feel what do not […] we deceive other about we really feel, but we do not deceive ourselves” (Hochschild, 1983, p. 33).

Particularly during this approach of display ‘faked feelings’ participants do not have any situational related personal connection towards the emotion, which must be shown at this moment. Therefore surface-acting is unfavorable for two significant reasons for every service institution. On the one hand, it is a high internal effort, to act in a totally different role, which results in a higher probability of emotional exhaustion, or even job burn-out (Grandey, 2003).Because it is a result of the emotional dissonance of the employees effort to display different feelings other than actually felt. And on the other hand, guests/ passengers also tend to recognize the ‘put on mask’, which could lead to a negative impact on the company’s image.

“This type of art [surface acting] is less profound than beautiful. It is immediately effective […]. It is more interesting than its content. […] You can receive great impressions through this art. But they will neither warm your soul nor penetrate deeply into it. Their effect is sharp but not lasting.”

(Stanislavski cited in Hochschild, 1983, p. 38).

Hypothesis 9 a: The harder it is for employees to fake their smile in order to appear happy at

work, the higher is the physical and emotional exhaustion.

Hypothesis 9 b: Acting (to be happy) does not affect the actual level of physical and emotional well-being outside the work.

3.1.2 Deep acting

Contrariwise deep-acting is seen as an authentic way to express positive emotions. As Hochschild stated it can be differentiated into two forms of deep acting: “one is by directly exhorting feelings, the other by making indirect use of a trained imagination” (Hochschild, 1983, p. 38), for instance, if a service worker imagines he or she had the guests problem. Therefore feelings are being adjusted in order to match the required situation (Grandey, 2003). Since a personal connection is set up, less energy is needed to fake this emotion. “Deep acting comes with its social stories about what we aspire to feel” (Hochschild, 1983, p. 39). Therefore it seems to be positively related to emotional exhaustion, since less effort is needed to display certain feelings, and because less emotional dissonance exists.

Figure 4 The Modes of Acting

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: (Bauer & Erdogan, Organizational Behavior, 2010)

Summarizing it can be said that in either way employees ‘fake’ their emotions, on personal costs, as shown in the figure above. To recover the lost energy, to balance work demands and relief stress, requires, physically and emotionally, a high demand of recreational facilities. In order to provide officers and ratings with the possibility to restore energy, the international labor organization set, in various conventions throughout the last five decades, the minimum requirements for such crew-facilities, which need to be meet by ship-owners and respective FOC’s.

3.2 Research Methodology

3.2.1 Procedure and sample

The research aimed to familiarize the reader with the topic fields of “work” and “life” as a crew member onboard modern cruise ships and to examine the actual feeling of balance between those two. Wiscombe (2010) stated at the 2nd International Cruise Conference that in the year 2009 the number of seafarers employed by the entire cruise industry, all around the globe, has increased to an amount of 400.000 seamen and -women. Seafarers have been chosen for their unique set of job characteristics: very long working hours, heavy workloads, no escape from the working environment, very limited privacy, dependent on the position possibility of autonomy and empowerment, a post-military chain of command. The objectives were to use a series of interviews, among a broad range of women and men working at sea, as the main data source, to observe various indicators of a possible imbalance between time at work and time off work.

Prior to the idea of conducting an online survey, human-resource responsible managers of different cruise lines were asked for permission to solicit participation among officers and ratings on specific cruise vessels for either interviews or questionnaires. Since all inquiries were responded negatively, -- the feeling arose that companies are not willing to assign accessibility to its employees for externals, for whatever reason--, the author used the possibilities of the World Wide Web to gain sufficient data for his research. The link to the respective webpage was posted in several social networks and seafarer online communities. With the chosen form of an online-questionnaire there was no need for the author to board any cruise vessel at all.

Even previous researches recommended homogeneous sampling in favor of improvement of analytical comparability (Rodriguez et al., 2001; Wong & Lin, 2007), the author of this thesis was interested in a broad view on the investigated topic on cruise ships and not just on certain departments. Furthermore the researcher had no opportunity to lock certain participants from specific departments out of the questionnaire in advance.

A short introduction and assured confidentiality were given prior the survey. This was offered in all cases, for ethical reasons, by withholding the identity of the cruise brands, vessels and any participant names.

Questionnaires were provided separately to ratings, including crew- and staff members as well as concessionaries, and to officers. Since the questionnaire was provided in 3 different languages, German, English and Tagalog (Filipino); for the duration of one month; a back-translation procedure was used (Brislin, 1980).

The main sources of empirical data are: the conducted online survey and a crew-manifest of a German upper-segment cruise liner.

A total set of 171 (N=171) usable questionnaires, representing 26 departments , were collected. With the great variety of 40 nationalities and almost all possible job-positions, from the very top of the hierarchy, the “Judge and Jury” (Gibson, 2008) – the Captain, across the whole ‘body’ of the ship till far down, two or three levels below the water line to engineers and laundry workers. Resulting in an insight view of people with direct customer contact, as well as people, who run the processes behind the scenes. With this amount of participants the research fulfills the requirements of being statistical relevant. With a required sample size of 97 interviewees (acceptable margin of error: 10%, Confidence level: 95% and response distribution of: 50%) the sample is even a little higher than at a 99% confidence level. The data collected has been recorded and converted (those that were free of any answering style) and then transferred into IBM SPSS, a statistical analysis program, with the aim to identify correlations, standard deviations and means.

Thereafter, it can be described as quantitative research, which allows the author to isolate and define variables, with a strategic perspective towards motivation to work at sea, physically and emotionally exhaustion, fatigue of the job, as well as surface- and deep acting. These variables are linked together, as it is illustrated in figure 9, and their relationships are put in hypotheses which are than tested on the data (Brannen in Kronberg, 2003). The testing of these hypotheses describes their relationships in forms of correlation and significance towards oneanother. Thereby the focus is put on the independent variables, namely emotionally and physically exhaustion. Correlations have been used in order to identify the important variables connected with the actual problem. Thereby, not all questions of the survey will be discussed but only the most interesting results will be mentioned.

Following the survey, results were sent to three different crewing agencies. The agencies contacted were located in Germany, in Cyprus and in Manila, Philippines. Yielding a 0% response rate. The aim of the statement collection was to establish critical professional opinions on the validity of the collected data.

Additionally four former crewmembers have been interviewed on a one-to-one basis, in order to get an insight view on the provided recreational facilities onboard. These interviewees worked on cruise ships serving the American and German market, within the 4star and 5star segment. These market segments have been chosen because of their differences of recruited personnel and therefore assumed differences in crew area furnishment, in the meaning of recreational facilities. Interviews were held in June 2010.

Figure 5 illustrates the whole research and data handling process.

Figure 5 Illustration of Research Methodology

illustration not visible in this excerpt

(Source: own illustration)

3.2.2 Questionnaire Design

In order to establish a crew-member profile a demographic section has been included. Questions concerning gender, age group, nationality, social status, kids and level of education were asked.

Questions for onboard status, department of work, how many contracts completed, average length of contracts and average working hours per day have been set up as control variables.

Closed-ended questions, meaning a variety of alternative answers were given, which covered the main part of the survey. The main factors of physically and emotionally exhaustion were directly addressed. At the end of the survey the researcher tried to identify preferences for either active or passive relief of stress, and an open ended question, which gave the participants the opportunity to state any additional comments about their live onboard. All three examples of the questionnaire can be found in the appendix, at page 64.

3.2.3 Data Analysis

Since the author used SPSS in order to evaluate his results, he had to code most of the given answers of his survey. In order to simplify data entry and analysis the closed-ended question, categories were assigned with different codes. For example the onboard status was coded as the following: 1= Crew; 2= Staff; 3= Officer. The specific codebook can be found in the appendix, at page 106.

The resulting frequencies of the answers are also monitored in the appendix. To conduct an overall framework of cruise ship crews the researcher made use of descriptive statistics, in order to obtain an overall picture.

Hypothesis were tested with correlation analysis under the following conditions:

- At least one variable has been scaled as binary, cross-tables were applied with Chi-Square-test
- If both variables were scaled ordinal, then Kendall’s tau rang-correlation had been used
- If both variables were scaled as interval then Pearson’s correlation coefficient matrix has been applied



ISBN (eBook)
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Institution / Hochschule
Hochschule Bremerhaven – Fachbereich II, Studiengang International Cruise Industry Management



Titel: Work-life balance among cruise ship crews