Wellness City Designation is Eyed by Oshkosh, Wisconsin

by: Nichole Gunn April 26, 2011

Oshkosh, Wisconsin has recently jumped on the employee wellness program bandwagon by initiating its own “Well Oshkosh” program. The wellness plan is focused on enhancing not only the public employees’ well-being, but also the residents of the city in an effort to attain national recognition.

Approved and launched in February 2011, if the initiative is successful the city will be given a “Well City USA designation from the national council,” stated Oshkosh Northwestern. The requirements entail a “minimum of 20 employers who collectively employ at least 20 percent of the area workforce to qualify as a Well Workplace within a three-year span.” Another requirement of the wellness program is for all levels of workers, from low level to top management, to participate.

In order to receive the “well workplace award,” there are seven conditions that must be met, but the main objective is for business owners to provide an all-inclusive wellness initiative that is supported by all company employees, from the bottom rung to the top of the ladder, noted wellness program manager at Bemis Company and member of the Well Oshkosh Task Force Trish Salomon.

Along with the requirements, each participating business is allowed to customize its program to its company’s needs. Health initiatives that may be utilized include: weekly fitness stretching, on-site wellness appraisals, and biometric testing.

Salomon advises that Well Oshkosh urges all business and city facilities, including schools, to work toward enhancing the workforce’s health and productivity. Doing so can provide long-term wellness effects, as well as garner new business to the area. "[Well Oshkosh] is beneficial to the city because, when potential new employers or members of the community consider Oshkosh, they're going to see the designation as a beneficial place to work and live."

The Well Oshkosh program is looking good with 22 businesses and over 13,000 workers participating. The Northwestern notes that Milwaukee has already earned the Well City USA honor on March 18, 2010, and Fox Cities, Oshkosh, and Racine are working toward earning the award.

Another facility working to improve the wellness of its employees and students is Michigan Technological University MTU). It has recently launched a wellness initiative in celebration of National Nutrition Month. The objective is to encourage healthy eating habits through non-cash rewards and incentives, noted the university.

The university titled the program HuskyPAW and it affords a points-based strategy in which students can accrue more points through an auction. The auctions are scheduled to be held at the end of each semester. If participants successfully fulfill the 31-day healthy-eating program, they are afforded the opportunity to win auctioned goods, including a wellness gift basket.