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UW-Eau Claire Class to Partner with Area Businesses to Enhance Workplace
Wellness Programs

RELEASED: Nov. 15, 2007

Dr. Susan Moch
Dr. Susan Moch

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member is looking for Chippewa Valley businesses or organizations that have an interest in starting or enhancing a workplace wellness program.

Students in "Wellness in the Work World," a class offered in spring 2008 for the first time, will work with local organizations to gather information and/or plan a wellness program that will meet the needs of the individual businesses, said Dr. Susan Moch, a professor of nursing who will teach the course.

"We will help design programs and gather information, giving businesses the tools and strategies they need to develop or enhance a program that will be effective in their workplace," Moch said. "We'll do the front-end work; we'll help them figure out how to design and run the program to meet their specific needs and goals."

Possible projects could range from a teacher who wants to start a walking program at his/her school, to an agency director who wants to create a wellness program to help reduce health care costs, to a business owner who wants to expand an existing wellness program to include spouses, Moch said.

"We're open to any small project that an agency or business might have that will create a healthier work world," Moch said. "We want to contribute in a meaningful way to the health of our community and possibly to helping keep health care costs down."

Moch hopes community members — including representatives from the businesses that partner with her — will enroll in the class.

"I really want different disciplines to be represented in the class and I want a mix of traditional students and community members to enroll," said Moch. "People at different places in their lives will bring different experiences and perceptions to the class. Community members will have a lot to contribute to the class and a lot to gain from it."

Students will break into teams depending on their areas of interest and expertise, with each team assigned to work with a specific business or agency, Moch said.

In addition to the hands-on projects, students also will study theories and research that focuses on wellness in the work environment, said Moch, who designed the class with Jill Markgraf, an associate professor in the library.

The class will give students opportunities to reflect on their career interests and experiences, as well as their expectations of their work environment, Moch said.

"We will touch on everything that it takes to have a well work world," Moch said. "The class isn't limited to food and fitness but to anything that helps shape a workplace culture."

Students will gain insights about the kinds of questions they can ask in an interview that will help better assess a business' culture, as well as help them determine how they might fare in such a culture, Moch said, noting that such insights will be valuable to students who are just entering the workforce as well as those who are already in it.

"One person might excel in a certain work climate while another person might struggle in that same culture," Moch said. "This will give students some tools for helping them figure what's right for them and for assessing an organization's culture."

Moch and Markgraf designed the class a while ago but lacked the time and resources to put it in place, Moch said. In October, Moch attended the fifth annual Synergy Conference, which brings business, community government and education leaders in the Chippewa and St. Croix valleys together to focus on issues and find solutions to the challenges. The conversations she heard during that event and the connections she made there made her even more excited about the class, she said.

"I heard so many business leaders talking about health care costs and their efforts to address wellness issues with their employees," Moch said of the conference. "It was clear that there is local interest in workplace wellness issues. And many organizations could use some guidance and support as they create programs to address those issues."

For details about the class, contact Dr. Susan Moch at 715-836-4889 or smoch@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB

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