Skip to main content

How Corporate Wellness Programs Can Boost Employee Satisfaction Through Community Engagement

How Corporate Wellness Programs Can Boost Employee Satisfaction Through Community Engagement

A rising trend in the workplace is the desire of today’s workers to have a positive impact within the community their company operates in. A recent report on new trends at work shows that with the entry of Millennials into the workforce, we see a growing need for companies to define their purpose and demonstrate how they give back to society.

Large companies like Salesforce, Unilever, and Facebook already include initiatives in their employee wellness programs that allow employees to volunteer in their communities and display the organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. The premise being that if businesses can incorporate the idea of “giving back” into their wellness programs, this will not only have a positive effect on society, but also lead to happier, more satisfied workers.

Another company that demonstrates the link between employee wellness and CSR is Bacardi Limited. I sat down with Scott Northcutt, Bacardi’s Senior Vice President for HR and creator of the company’s wellness program, "Fit for the Future," to find out how and why the company links community investment with their efforts to make employees happier and healthier.

Northcutt shared with me two ways of making sure Bacardi’s Corporate Wellness program achieves both.

Define your areas of impact.

Recognize how the company impacts your community and implement ideas to bring about positive change for key stakeholders. This starts with an understanding of the impact of products and services on consumers.

Bacardi recognizes that their products are directly linked to concerns about alcohol consumption, and realizes the responsibility they hold to advocate for responsible drinking. That’s why their marketing revolves around responsible drinking, and for events sponsored by the company, Bacardi partners with ride-share company, Uber, to offer free rides home.

Northcutt: We are in business of making good times great, [but] they are not great if people drink too much. That’s the message we promote. We don’t support excess and we feel a large responsibility to our communities to show that.

When it comes to their employees, Bacardi supports them in creating a healthy work-life balance. Through a program called "Bacardi Assist," employees can feel safe and supported in bringing concerns to the company. The company, in turn, has resources available to help employees with whatever struggles they face (like marriage counseling, for example).

[Related: Five Tips for Building Mindful Eating Into Your Busy Day]

Get healthy for a cause.

What if you could help get your employees motivated to reach their health goals, while simultaneously touching the lives of others? One way to accomplish this is to have your employee wellness program host or participate in a fundraiser event for your charity of choice.

Bacardi is making a difference for the 2.5 million people in the world who suffer from multiple sclerosis through the Florida-based fundraiser, "Bike MS." Bacardi’s team of cyclists is the largest in the cause and has raised over $1 million to this day.

Northcutt: It’s a cause employees are excited about and it helps motivate them to get out there and move, while at the same time raising awareness for MS.

After learning about the two key principles of "Fit for the Future," I wanted to find out why Bacardi initiated its social and community engagement efforts in the first place. Where did their purpose-driven goals come from?

Take care of people, they’ll take care of you.

Northcutt says that because Bacardi is a family-owned business, the drive to support their communities has always been there.

Northcutt: Bacardi cares for people differently than any company I’ve worked for and coming into the organization, I realized this caring culture has existed since the beginning. Since the company was founded in 1862, Bacardi has been offering free, or highly subsidized meals to workers. Regarding ways that employees can serve a purpose in their communities, our goal for this year is to see 95% of the 40 countries where we employ workers to participate in CSR activities.

[Related: Sacrificing Your Health for Success Can Have the Opposite Effect]

Freedom in the framework.

How can larger companies like Bacardi, that have numerous facilities spread across multiple regions, accomplish the highest impact possible on a local level? Northcutt says that at Bacardi, senior leaders promote the concept of “Freedom in the Framework,” which means that underneath the umbrella of the "Fit for the Future" framework, countries and sites can adapt it to the needs of local communities.

Northcutt: It’s about letting local groups launch their own ideas. Corporate headquarters set the framework, but they create the “how,” putting together social events and programs that interest their local communities.

Given Bacardi's low turnover rate (in the single digits), it seems employees are happy working for a company that allows them to give back to society. Perhaps it is also due to this link that Bacardi’s "Fit For the Future" participation rates are well above average. Other companies, therefore, would do well to adapt to this shift in workplace trends by tying community investment and CSR initiatives to their employee wellness programs.

[Related: Workplace Wellness: Increase Energy and Focus with Simple Yoga and Meditation]


Franziska Alesso-Bendisch, Ph. D. is the Founder of Well Work Solutions, an employee performance, resilience, and well-being consultancy, helping companies design and deliver engaging, results-oriented wellness programs. This interview is part of her It’s Working Well Interview series featuring successful creators of employee wellness programs.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook.: