Well City Milwaukee

Assisting employers in enhancing the health and well‐being of the Milwaukee-area workforce

Full Project Name:Well City Milwaukee: Creating a workable plan to evaluate a citywide worksite wellness initiativePrimary Community Organization:YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, Inc.Primary Academic Partner:Jane Kotchen, MD, MPH, Institute for Health and EquityAward Amount:$47,085
Award Date
July2008
Project Duration:12 months

Project Description Narrative:


Across the United States, poor nutritional choices, tobacco use, and a lack of physical activity have resulted in a dramatic increase in diabetes rates, heart disease, and obesity. Nationally, an estimated 50% of the workforce now reports significant risk factors or experiencing acute illnesses. In addition, 20% of individuals in the workforce have chronic diseases or disabilities linked to lifestyle factors, which account for 70% of the nation's medical care costs. In the Milwaukee area, 55% of residents have health problems related to obesity, with 73% of area adults exercising less than 30 minutes per day and 70% eating less than three servings of fruits or vegetables each day. Additionally, 22% of Milwaukee adults report smoking.

Nationally, over 400 studies have demonstrated that a practice strategy for combating this crisis can be worksite wellness programs aimed at impacting health behaviors, risk factors, and costs. Through this award, project partners will assist Milwaukee-area employers in delivering results-oriented wellness programs to their employees in order to enhance the health and wellbeing of the local workforce, manage health care expenditures, and raise awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles.

Community partners:

City of Milwaukee; City of Milwaukee Health Department; Greater Milwaukee Committee; Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce; Wellness Council of Wisconsin

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Established a steering committee to direct activities of toward obtaining Well City status through the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) Well City USA initiative

• Launched a strategic planning process, developing guiding principles and strategies to support area companies in becoming Well Workplaces

• Developed a recruitment strategy to reach area CEOs/employers, with employers representing more than 90,000 employees accepting the Well City-Well Workplace challenge. Maintained a 99% retention rate of existing employers involved in the coalition and added 14 more throughout the project

• Supported area workplaces in participating in 74% of Well City activities, enabling member companies to share ideas and strategies to support workplace wellness

• Established information, education, and mentoring supports for employers as they progress through the Well Workplace accreditation process

• Brought member companies together for a celebration and progress report meeting attracting more than 350 attendees

• Established a communications strategy to promote workplace wellness including a six-part advertising series with local Milwaukee Business Journal publication, featuring information on successful wellness programs and spotlighting example programs as well as more than 50 presentations to professional, civic, and health insurance- or benefits-related organizations

• Developed a data collection tool to be used in program evaluation

• In 2010, Milwaukee became the largest city in the nation to earn the Well City USA Award. In 2015, Milwaukee became the only city in the nation to have twice received the Well City USA Award

AHW Logo

8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350

©2019 MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED | MCW.EDU | TERMS & PRIVACY | NON-DISCRIMINATION NOTICE

top