Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has offices and operations around the world. Their ships, planes, tours, and operations span the globe from Europe to the Caribbean Sea, from the Tropical South Pacific to the American Northwest. With over 60,000 employees at sea and land in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico, Royal Caribbean understands the importance of a globally consistent Employee Success™ solution. Their Human Resources department motto is “Great vacations begin with great employees,” and it’s that attitude that has helped them become a leader in the travel industry. Especially for a service-oriented company such as theirs, engaged employees are a critical aspect of business success.

Like many companies, Royal Caribbean used to distribute an employee satisfaction survey. The responses were always good, so the company didn’t think too much about it. But one day, an outside consultant came and taught them the difference between satisfaction and engagement—and that’s when everything changed.

If they wanted to go the extra mile, Royal Caribbean realized, their employees couldn’t just be satisfied; they needed to be engaged. Immediately, the company changed the annual survey questions to address engagement, and HR put together a plan to address any discrepancies or gaps with the relevant departments.

But the biggest change was the implementation of their leadership development initiative. As a company that values internal promotion—indeed, their current Brand President & CEO began his career as a purser aboard one of their ships—it was important to senior leadership that all employees have a chance to stretch themselves and learn new skills. Working side-by-side, HR and senior leadership created an employee development program to identify high-potential leaders and develop their skills to prepare them for multiple roles throughout the organization. Called “Building on Talent,” the program is available to employees at all managerial levels and across the globe.

Royal Caribbean’s strategy has paid off. In addition to boosting engagement—57 percent of metrics on the engagement survey trended up between 2011 and 2012—the company’s investment in their employees earned them a 2012 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Award. “We decided to apply for this award as our company always strives for excellence,” said Maria Del Busto, Royal Caribbean’s Global CHRO. “This was a great opportunity to measure our efforts and validate that what we are doing is the right thing for our employees and the company. Engagement is the leading indicator of performance and competitiveness, and this award helps us confirm we are leaders in our industry when it comes to a happy and motivated workforce.” The company now considers employee engagement a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for the company and even bases manager bonuses on the engagement scores of their teams.

Winning the award has been a point of pride for employees, too. On the most recent engagement survey, one employee wrote, “I have been with the company now for one year and have loved every minute of it. I have found the company and the opportunities that I’ve always wanted and worked for many years. My plan is to continue to add value to my team and the company. I truly appreciate this career opportunity and am loyal to Royal!”

Does your company have an engagement story to share? Apply now for the 2013 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards!