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Money Available for Wisconsin Workplace Wellness Programs

Wisconsin has set aside $3 million a year to assist small businesses in creating workplace wellness programs. (Chagin/iStockPhoto)
Wisconsin has set aside $3 million a year to assist small businesses in creating workplace wellness programs. (Chagin/iStockPhoto)
May 9, 2016

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Applications are now being accepted for Wisconsin businesses with 50 or fewer employees to obtain grant money to help create a workplace wellness program.

The state has set aside $3 million a year to reimburse small businesses for their wellness programs.

Catherine Kolkmeier, director of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium and chair of the American Heart Association of Wisconsin's Advocacy Committee, says having access to a wellness program at work is a huge benefit.

"People spend a lot of their day when they're at work, and the American Heart Association is very interested in that being a time when people can be healthy and learn about making healthy choices," she states.

The grant will pay for 30 percent of a business's wellness program costs for one year, with a cap of $15,000.

Kolkmeier says an eligible wellness program must include a health risk assessment for employees, but is very flexible in terms of what else it covers.

"It can include many different components, from looking at preventing chronic diseases to weight management programs, stress management, preventing injuries on the work site,” she explains. “It can be adapted to whatever your workplace needs."

According to Kolkmeier, the workplace wellness reimbursement grant has few limitations.

"Really, the only restriction is that it's not for improving or purchasing property, but it can cover personnel cost, it can cover education programs, purchase of equipment,” she states. “There are all sorts of options for what the funds can be spent on."

Kolkmeier says the Heart Association encourages all employers to offer comprehensive workplace wellness programs, in part because creating a healthy culture is a win for everyone.

"If you have healthier employees, your employees are more likely to come to work,” she stresses. “They're more likely to work more productively, and it really is helpful not only for the business and for the employer, but also for the employees to be encouraged to have healthier habits when they go home to their families."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI