Conversations with Kadalyst Series: The Essential Elements of a Successful Corporate Wellness Program With Columbia Sportswear’s Cassie Buckroyd

Every wellness program needs certain elements to succeed. That’s what Columbia Sportswear Company’s Manager of Wellbeing Programs, Cassie Buckroyd, told the Kadalyst team when we sat down to discuss her role as a part of the Columbia Sportswear wellness team. She noted that these elements are common across organizations. If your wellness program doesn’t have them, it isn’t likely to be effective.

What are those essential elements?

Executive support and commitment

Buckroyd said that, above all, a wellness program must have executive level support to succeed. Without this support, your program will not receive adequate resources. For example, while Buckroyd guides Columbia’s wellness strategy, she needs the participation and support of individuals within her department and across the organization to make the program work. This level of support requires commitments of time and money. And, to receive those commitments, she needs buy-in from the top levels of the organization.

A culture of wellness

Leadership support is also necessary to create a company-wide culture of wellness. Employees of an organization look to their executive teams to set an example by word and deed. So, if a culture of wellness is to thrive within an organization, it needs support at the highest levels. But company culture is seldom dictated by leadership alone. So, to have a truly successful wellness program, your organization will need to incorporate wellness into the company’s overall mission. As we’re reminded by the authors of the Harvard Business Review article, How to Design a Corporate Wellness Plan That Actually Works, an organization’s culture of wellness has to be intentionally built and sustained.

Data and Customization

Adequate support and a healthy company culture lay the foundation for a successful wellness program, but they aren’t enough to ensure success. Buckroyd explained that, as a first step to establishing Columbia’s wellness program, she performed a needs assessment to find out what the company’s employees wanted and needed. This led her to pursue programs that focused on nutrition and emotional well-being in the first years of the program. She adds that what works for her company might not work for another, as each population’s needs will be different.


The best-designed wellness program is of no use to your employees if they don’t know about it. Buckroyd dedicates much of her time to communicate with her staff, managers, and individual employees about the various well-being initiatives that Columbia offers. From emailed newsletters to strategically placed flyers, she and her team design and execute a communication plan to support each of Columbia’s wellness offerings. 


One thing Buckroyd made clear as she spoke about Columbia’s wellness program is that no one person can make your program a success. To create a company culture of wellness, communicate initiatives, and encourage employees to participate requires a group of employees and volunteers who are dedicated to seeing the program succeed. Buckroyd calls these individuals her champion network. Columbia employees support its wellness efforts by serving on committees, sharing their talents, and participating in team activities.

Measurement and evaluation

A well-organized and implemented wellness program can benefit your organization in many different ways. But to get the most out of your program requires a continuous process of measurement, evaluation, and improvement. Buckroyd noted that she analyzes both quantitative and qualitative factors to assess the success of individual wellness initiatives and the program as a whole. By tracking the performance of the program, she has the data she needs to further tailor the program to the needs of Columbia’s employees and present her managers with data-backed reports on the program’s results.

Designing your successful wellness program

Are you preparing to launch an employee wellness program at your organization for the first time? Or, maybe you have a wellness program that has failed to achieve the results you hoped for.

If you’d like to enlist expert assistance to help you craft a wellness program that enhances the lives of your employees and adds real value to your organization, the time to reach out is now.

You can reach our team through this contact form or by calling us at 503-512-5175.

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