Business challenge

To inspire and enable employees to perform at their best, Bacardi wanted to measure engagement across its global business—but many different surveys made it difficult to compare results.


Bacardi worked with IBM to design and run a global employee engagement survey, and drill down into its data to uncover the true drivers of engagement for employees across the business.



survey participation provides deeper insights into engagement


faster action-planning boosts confidence that Bacardi is acting on feedback


employee-led action plans per year help address areas for improvement

Business challenge story

Engaged employees go the extra mile

Since 1862, Bacardi has grown into the largest privately held spirits company in the world—and today, the company continues to promote the cultural pillars of family and heritage, having a founder’s mentality, and fearlessness that have helped it reach its leading position in the global marketplace.

Laura Martinez, Director of Talent Management at Bacardi in North America, explains: “Bacardi is a family-owned business, and the sense of family coupled with a founder’s philosophy runs through everything we do. For example, we don’t call our people ‘employees’, we call them ‘Primos’, which in our native Spanish translates to ‘cousins’.”

She continues: “Our culture has helped us to attract a passionate, motivated global workforce, and we know that fostering a close-knit, supportive working environment inspires people to go the extra mile. When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, our teams around the world quickly raised more than USD105,000 to help their colleagues rebuild and recover, on top of the Bacardi family and corporate contribution of USD2 million in disaster aid.”

To prepare its business for the challenges of an increasingly competitive marketplace, Bacardi drove a far-reaching structural transformation. The company wanted to understand the impact of its organizational changes on engagement, but multiple different approaches to surveying its global workforce made it difficult to gain the necessary insights.

“For many years, we have understood the importance of engagement surveys to take the pulse of the business, but our approach relied on multiple tools and processes,” continues Martinez. “Because we were using different sets of questions for different geographies, it was difficult to make meaningful comparisons across the organization. To solve the challenge, we decided to embrace a centralized approach to engagement surveys, and we looked for an enterprise-class solution to help achieve our goal.”

Our engagement insights are helping to make Bacardi an even better place to work, and we’re very excited by what the future holds.

—Laura Martinez, Director, Talent Management – North America, Bacardi Limited

Transformation story

Measuring engagement across the business

Bacardi selected IBM® Kenexa® Employee Voice as its global employee engagement survey platform—delivering a company-wide view of engagement and the factors that drive it.

“One of the aspects of the IBM offering that impressed us most was their support and consulting services,” Martinez recalls. “From the outset, we were clear that we wanted to drill down more deeply into our survey results—for example, to uncover how scores differed along dimensions such as geography, gender or tenure, while still protecting the anonymity of our employees. The expertise of the IBM team gave us the confidence that we would be able to interpret the data effectively.”

Working together with IBM, Bacardi designed and launched an employee engagement survey for its global workforce.

“IBM offered us an end-to-end solution—from deciding on the questions we needed to ask to achieve our analytics goals to coordinating the survey and extracting insights from resulting data,” continues Martinez.

“We have now completed two surveys with IBM, and each engagement has been an extremely positive experience. As well as helping us build a customized reporting template tailored to our brand identity, the IBM team enabled us to move from analysis to action in just one month on our most recent survey—more than 80 percent faster than before. And at any stage in the survey lifecycle, we know the support we need is only an email or a phone call away.”

She adds: “When it came to presenting to our decision-makers, the IBM team helped us put forward our findings in a clear, concise way. In fact, this year we asked them to present to our vice president of human resources directly.”

By clearly communicating the goals of its new engagement surveys to the business, Bacardi is encouraging more people than ever to take part.

“Our participation rate has always been high, but we recently boosted it from 86 to 89 percent,” comments Martinez. “We are delighted that even more of our colleagues wanted to share their insights this year—and, crucially, that more people felt like their voices would be heard and their feedback acted upon.”

Results story

Shaping an even better working environment

With IBM Kenexa Employee Voice driving its worldwide engagement surveys, Bacardi can precisely measure engagement across the business, and act to drive improvements.

“During our latest survey, we received thousands of text comments, and categorizing that feedback manually would have been a time-consuming task,” says Martinez. “Thanks to the analytics capabilities of IBM Kenexa Employee Voice, we used text mining to surface the key themes from each region as a word cloud, and share them with our local talent management directors—enabling them to see at a glance the issues on people’s minds.”

She continues: “We understand that every part of the company is different, and we didn’t want to respond to our surveys with a one-size-fits-all approach. After every survey, we appoint locally led action teams—and this year, we formed 63 groups. By empowering our people to do the things that make sense for their office, function, or market, we are supporting improvements across the organization.”

By identifying unique engagement drivers for different groups in the business, Bacardi can focus its resources where they will have the greatest impact.

“Diversity and inclusion are key focus areas for us, and for the past few years we’ve run a Women in Leadership program to help women in the company grow in their roles and advance their careers,” says Martinez. “Our survey results showed us that female engagement was not rising at the rate we expected, and that we needed to do more than run quarterly meetings and seminars to deliver the results we wanted.

“To turn our employees’ feedback into action, we created a curriculum for our Women in Leadership initiative: transforming it into a structured, year-long development program. Today, 25 women from our North America business are enrolled in the program, and for the first time we are seeing female engagement rising faster than male engagement.”

She adds: “Our latest survey also gave us valuable insights into the relationship between engagement and tenure. For example, we noticed a significant drop in engagement after someone’s first year of work. When we sliced the data by geography, we saw that the scores for one of our regions was pulling down our global average. By discussing the results with the local human resources manager, we realized that we needed to increase our focus on learning and development—and we’ve since created an action plan to help new joiners build their skills and take on additional responsibilities.”

Although its journey with IBM Kenexa Employee Voice is just beginning, Bacardi is already measuring substantial increases in key survey metrics.

“This year, we increased engagement by two percentage points across the organization, which gives us confidence that we are moving in the right direction,” says Martinez. “Similarly, the great work of our local action teams has helped push up career development and succession planning scores by an average of five percent compared with the previous survey. Our work is also having a positive impact at the executive level—and our scores for director level and above have increased significantly.”

She concludes: “Without a doubt, our engagement insights are helping to make Bacardi an even better place to work, and we’re very excited by what the future holds.”

business logo

About Bacardi Limited

Founded in 1862 and headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda, Bacardi Limited is a family-owned spirits company operating 29 production facilities around the world. The company employs 5,500 people, and markets more than 200 brands and labels including BACARDÍ rum, GREY GOOSE vodka, and DEWAR’S Blended Scotch whisky.

Solution components

  • Kenexa Employee Voice

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM Kenexa Employee Voice, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:

View more client stories or learn more about IBM Collaboration and Talent Solutions