When Thea Neal was brought on as the Talent Marketing Manager at Royal Caribbean Group in May 2019, she quickly got to work improving the company’s Glassdoor page and rating — which was a 3.6 at the time.

“As a job seeker, I always go to Glassdoor first,” she said. “Before I will even take an interview with someone, I immediately check their Glassdoor page. It’s really important.”

By August 2020, their rating had jumped to a 4.3 — which made Royal Caribbean one of the highest rated major corporations on the platform.

According to Thea, Glassdoor is a valuable tool for the company because it’s an authentic way for employees to share their experiences.

“Improving our rating is a continual effort,” she said. “It’s been important because we can hear directly from our employees, unfiltered.”

Her first step was to refresh Royal Caribbean Group’s Glassdoor page.

The existing imagery was nearly seven years old, so Thea and her team immediately got to work updating the page with fresh, new photos.

Then, she dug into the copy and began updating their company description. “We needed to transform how we talk about ourselves and change some of the wording,” she said. “We create cities on ships, and we have people who work as cleaning staff, waiters, mariners, and even high divers. So, we need our page to reflect that we care about all our employees, regardless of what their job is, and regardless of whether they’re shipboard or shoreside.”

Then, Thea and her team worked on getting reviews from Royal Caribbean’s most engaged employees.

“We asked for reviews from folks in our employee resource groups,” she said. “It only takes about five minutes to write a Glassdoor review, but we figure this group of people is more likely to be willing to take on more work by leaving a review.”

Thea said they also engage those groups because they tend to be passionate about their identities and who they are at work, and they’re excited to share their feelings about working at Royal Caribbean Group.

“We don’t solicit reviews from the rest of our employees though, especially not on an active basis,” she said. “That process can be a bit disingenuous. But in this instance, it was fun to reach out to who we already knew are engaged employees and wanted to share their experience.”

Royal Caribbean’s leadership team has always put a major focus on open communication, which has also impacted their ratings, Thea said.

“We have bi-weekly leadership calls with all employees, where they can submit questions and talk directly to leadership about the state of the company,” she said. “It’s a two-way street of asking questions with our senior leaders, and it’s great for employees to know they have an open ear to talk to.”

Thea added that 93% of Royal Caribbean’s Glassdoor reviewers approve of their CEO, Richard Fain — which she partially attributes to those bi-weekly calls. “It’s pretty rare for a major executive to have an approval rating that high,” said Thea.

Those open lines of communication became even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to COVID-19, we unfortunately had some changes in our workforce,” she said. “But, our team handled it really well. We had specific, caring conversations with people. And, we ended up having a lot of former employees leave us good reviews throughout the crisis. Being able to handle hard situations with good communication and grace has been so important.”

Thea shared a post on LinkedIn in May to celebrate Royal Caribbean’s new 4.1 rating — and then, to her surprise, they saw another increase just two months later.

“I was so proud about our rating then, and now we’re at a 4.3,” she said. “I was very nervous that our number would tank due to those COVID-19 and because cruising is being halted all over the world. But, it shows if you treat your employees well, they’ll continue to treat you well, even after a hard circumstance. We were prepared and all the people handling those tough situations at Royal Caribbean Group are warm, awesome individuals.”

She added that if they hadn’t treated their employees well throughout the crisis, their Glassdoor rating would have reflected that. “Companies can pay high salaries, but if they don’t treat their employees well during negative situations, they’re going to go onto Glassdoor and say something about that.”

They share their rating internally every month and currently measure success based on how many reviews they receive.

“Right now, we get a couple reviews per week, which is good,” she said. “We share out our Glassdoor rating in our monthly metrics report. And, up until recently, we had been comparing our ratings to our competitors in our analytics on the platform.”

She said they’re constantly learning from the feedback they receive on Glassdoor.

“In the past, we saw some comments about how certain employees didn’t receive enough training, so we’ve gone back and started offering a lot more training,” said Thea. “When I see these types of things come through in reviews, I start asking questions and trying to make sure we’re acting on our learnings. We don’t only learn from Glassdoor though – we also pulse surveys monthly.”

She added they don’t currently have the bandwidth to reply to every single review, but it’s a goal she hopes to build to. “We know it can be hard for people to say their complaints in person, and it’s easier to do it anonymously on the internet. We want people to know that if that’s their method of communication, we’re still listening.”

For other talent leaders who want to improve their Glassdoor rating, Thea recommended engaging your advocates.

“Your ERGs are ultimately some of your best advocates because they’re the ones who care the most about work and they like taking on some extra responsibilities when they can,” she said. “They care about what they represent as well as what your work represents.”

She added that having grace in difficult times is critical too, because it will pay off for longer than just in that moment.

Thea Neal has been a member of the Talent Marketing Board since 2019. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.