Wellness Incentives are Taxable

The State of Wisconsin extends financial incentives to employees through the Well Wisconsin employee wellness program. If you are covered under the State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance program, you and your spouse (if covered under the State Group Health Insurance Program) were eligible for the $150 Well Wisconsin incentive if you submitted a health screening result to StayWell, completed the StayWell health risk assessment and a Well-Being activity by October 11, 2019. StayWell is the State of Wisconsin wellness program administrator. Additionally, depending on the health plan you are enrolled with, you may also be eligible for financial reimbursements for wellness related expenses such as gym memberships, fitness classes, the cost to participate in Community Support Agriculture (CSA) programs and rewards for participating in health or wellness programs or challenges.

Per guidance from the federal government and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the wellness incentive benefits are classified as taxable fringe benefits. This means that any financial incentive you receive from the program is taxable income for state and federal tax purposes.

What this means for you: 

  • Financial incentives will be reported as taxable wages and subject to applicable withholdings and taxes. You will see withholdings for all incentives issued in the current calendar year reflected on your August or December earnings statement. This will include incentives issued to your eligible family members. Withholding may include 7.65% for Social Security and Medicare if the employee is FICA Eligible and may include federal and state withholding, depending on the number of exemptions you claimed on your W-4. Note: Some individuals may have met their Social Security Tax maximum in 2019 $8,239.80 and therefore, they may only have Medicare Tax withheld.
  • Withholding may include 7.65% for Social Security and Medicare if the employee is FICA Eligible and may include federal and state withholding, depending on the number of exemptions you claimed on your W-4. Note: Some individuals may have met their Social Security Tax maximum in 2019 $8,239.80 and therefore, they may only have Medicare Tax withheld.
  • Federal regulations require your employer to receive financial data regarding incentives issued to employees and their covered family members. Your health information is protected by federal privacy regulations and is not shared with your employer.

Even with the federal government’s tax regulations, eligible employees and their spouses are able to receive substantial financial rewards for using the wellness incentives offered by the State of Wisconsin and participating health plans.

For questions about the $150 Well Wisconsin incentive contact StayWell at wellwisconsin@staywell.com. For questions about incentives provided by your health plan carrier, contact your health plan carrier directly. If you have additional questions, contact wellness@uwgb.edu or (920) 465-2203.

Write a Thank-You Note

Maybe you’ve heard of random acts of kindness. As its name implies, a random act of kindness involves doing something thoughtful for another person with no expectation of being paid back, or even thanked for it. The recipient of your act may be someone you know, or a complete stranger. Either way, research proves that kind acts not only benefit the recipient, but also make you feel happier.


Today, why not take a few minutes to write a thank-you note to someone? Maybe you’ll write to a former teacher, a good friend, or even someone you see frequently but don’t know well—like the barista you buy your coffee from every morning, or your child’s teacher. It needn’t be fancy or long, just a simple expression of how much you appreciate the person. The few minutes it takes you to write the note may make someone’s day much brighter.

Article from the StayWell Company, LLC

Ginger Shrimp Open-Faced Sandwiches

• 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
• 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and mincedshrimp sand
• 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
• 24 cooked medium shrimp (about 1/2 pound)
• 4 scallions, trimmed and washed
• 24 grape tomatoes
• 24 slices whole-wheat cocktail bread
In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, ginger, and soy sauce. Set aside. Slice shrimp lengthwise. Chop scallions into rings. Halve grape tomatoes lengthwise. Spread ginger-soy cream cheese on mini-bread slices. Arrange 2 halves of shrimp, tomato, and sprinkle of scallions on each slice. Serve at once or refrigerate until ready.
Makes 24 mini-sandwiches
Each has about 47 calories, 10 g protein, 1 g fat, 21 mg cholesterol, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, and 112 mg sodium

Recipe from the StayWell Company, LLC.

Catfish with a Kick

(Gluten-free, gout-friendly)


  • 2 boneless, skinless catfish fillets (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onioncatfish
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder


On a sheet of waxed paper, combine dry ingredients. Rinse catfish fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat both sides with rub. Heat broiler to high. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on a small cookie sheet and place catfish fillets on it. Broil about 4 inches from heat for about 5 minutes. Turn fillets and broil 3 to 4 minutes longer, until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Serves 2

  • Each serving contains about 239 calories, 0 g carbohydrates, 27 g protein, 14 g fat, 115 mg sodium, and 0 g fiber.
  • To make this recipe gluten-free, use only spices or condiments that are gluten-free. Read food labels carefully and contact the company if you have any questions.
  • This recipe is gout-friendly because it contains food moderate in purines. Meat, fish, and poultry should be limited to 1 to 2 servings per day.

Recipe from the StayWell Company, LLC.

Take an After Dinner Walk Today!

You’ve just eaten and you want nothing more than to lie back on your couch and put on your newest binge-watching obsession. But tonight, resist that urge! Instead of heading to the couch, head to the front door and step outside for a walk. It will help you feel refreshed, it will help you work off some of the food you just ate, and it will help you build muscle and bone strength, as well as reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes. You just might like it enough to do it tomorrow night and the night after, too. After-dinner walks could become your new thing. That show will still be there when you get back.


Article from the StayWell Company, LLC

Title & Total Compensation Project Update – November, 2019


The University of Wisconsin (UW) is embarking on a complete redesign of its current classification and compensation structure. The goal of the Title & Total Compensation Project is to develop new systems that will enable institutions to continue to attract and retain the best talent.

You can now search for UW System job titles through the Standard Job Description Library. The library includes the draft job titles and job descriptions for Academic Staff, University Staff, and Limited Appointees. The library is meant as a reference tool for employees and managers to use during conversations this winter.

Please click here for resources published by UW System related to the Title & Total Compensation Project, including explainer videos, an eLearning module, town hall meeting replays, and a manager resource guide.

UW-System is holding a Virtual Town Hall Meeting on November 15th at 12:00 p.m. Please see this blog post for more information about the town hall meeting.

Recent UW System Updates:

Titles and Job Descriptions

    • The project implementation timeline has been extended to allow for more time to confirm the best job title and standard job description matches possible. The project will finish in Spring, 2020.

    • Review of the draft titles and standard job descriptions is complete and are posted online! The job titles and standard job descriptions will remain in draft form until after employee-manager conversations, December 2019 through March 2020.

    • Employees will discuss their updated job title and job description with their manager or HR representative between December, 2019 and March, 2020. Employees will receive their updated job title information prior to the conversation. Employee feedback and questions are appropriate, valid, and expected during the Employee-Manager conversations.

    • While job titles and job descriptions may change, employees will not lose their jobs, employees will not need to reapply for their jobs, and the work done by employees will not change.


    • A summary of the benefits analysis findings is available here.

    • Based on the Mercer benefits analysis and stakeholder input, the project team will recommend a long-term benefits strategy to enhance UW benefits offerings and help keep UW competitive within the market.


    • This project creates the foundation for a market informed UW System compensation structure. Employee pay will not be cut. Employee pay will also not be increased as a part of this project. Any increases in pay are out of scope of this project and would need to be funded and planned over time by leadership.

    • The goal is to retain talent within the UW System and provide employees the ability to grow within the new Job Framework and compensation structure. Once a market-informed structure is created, the next question is how project data is used to address issues for current employees as well as in recruitment. The TTC Project allows us to gather the necessary title and compensation data so that we can look at solutions.

    • After the title structure is finalized in Spring 2020. the compensation structure can be finalized, which means that all job titles will have an updated salary range. More details will be forthcoming in March 2020 about updated salary ranges. Introducing compensation before or during the title discussion may introduce unintentional bias for higher or lower titles. Managers will have no more info than employees on compensation. Managers will look at titles and job descriptions based on same amount of information as the employee.

    • Work is still being done to determine and document all of the methods for pay adjustments and career development that will be available in the future

In the Queue:

  • November 15: UW System will host a virtual town hall meeting.
  • December, 2019 – March, 2019: Employee-manager conversations.
  • Spring, 2020: Job titles and job descriptions will go-live.

For up-to-date information about the Title & Total Compensation Project, please see the UW System Title & Total Compensation Project website. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the UW System FAQ page.

UW-Green Bay Updates:

  • UW-Green Bay Human Resources has recently held training for managers as well as campus updates for employees.
  • UW-Green Bay has an institutional T&TC project team, whose goal is to engage with subject matter experts and stakeholders. Feedback and information about T&TC flows to and from the project team.

Important Year End Leave Information for University Staff

*Please note that this information applies to University Staff positions, not Academic Staff, Limited, or Faculty positions.*

As we near the end of the 2019 calendar year, University Staff employees are reminded to review their leave balances.

Vacation Carry Over
Employees may carry over any unused vacation earned in 2019 into 2020.  You don’t need to do anything to have your unused 2019 vacation carry over to 2020 – it will carry over automatically.

Any vacation carried over from 2018 must be used by December 31, 2019.  The Human Resources System (HRS) will automatically take any vacation absences entered first from carry over balances before taking from the current year’s allocations.

Compensatory Time
Compensatory time (comp time) is able to be carried into the following calendar year if approved by the immediate supervisor.  If carried over, unused compensatory time must be used by April 30th of the following year or it will be paid out on the pay period that includes May 1st.

Personal and Legal Holidays
Personal and Legal holiday hours may not be carried into 2020.  If personal and legal holiday hours are not used by December 31, 2019, they will be forfeited.

Your legal holiday ‘available’ balance includes upcoming observed legal holidays.  The remaining observed legal holidays this calendar year include Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

Annual Leave Conversion Option (Banked Leave or Sabbatical)
Forms for employees eligible for the Annual Leave Conversion Option are available on your My UW System Portal, under Time and Absence > Leave Reports tab > 2019 Banked Leave Report.  Please submit your completed form to Human Resources by Friday, December 6, 2019.

You can also enter this on your timesheet yourself if you prefer (instructions: https://uwservice.wisconsin.edu/docs/publications/phit_leave_conversion.pdf), and please enter it on a non-work day (ex. a Saturday) between 12/1/19 and 12/21/19.  (Please note that if you have and select the hours payout option, if you enter it on a day between 12/1/19 and 12/7/19, the payout would be on a 2019 paycheck.  If you enter the hours payout on a day between 12/8/19 and 12/21/19, the payout would be on a 2020 paycheck.)

How do I check my paid leave balances?
On your My UW System Portal, go to your timesheet, scroll to the bottom, and click on the “Absence Balances” tab.  You can also view your absence balances in your portal under Time and Absence > Leave Balances tab.

Questions? Please contact Payroll & Benefits at (920) 465-2390 or payrollandbenefits@uwgb.edu.

Take a Deep, Relaxing Breath

When You Stop at a Red Light, Take a Deep, Relaxing Breath

Let’s just admit it: Commuting stinks. Today, more than 85 percent of Americans drive to their jobs. And it can be stressful. Busy roads combined with the need to get to work on time can cause tempers to flare and common sense to go out the window. A survey by the AAA Foundation found that nearly nine in 10 people thought aggressive drivers were a threat to their safety—yet many of them admitted to engaging in aggressive behavior themselves. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned; after all, motor vehicle crashes cause about 33,000 fatalities every year.


Instead of letting your stress levels soar while you drive, use the time you spend sitting in traffic to consciously decompress. Each time you stop for a red light today, take a deep breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As you exhale, relax the muscles in your shoulders. You’ll get to your destination in the same amount of time, but you’ll feel calmer, more refreshed, and ready to start your day.

Article from the StayWell Company, LLC

Broiled Trout with Almonds


Although rainbow trout is native to a narrow band along the West Coast of the United States, cultivation in ponds dates back more than 100 years. Today, farmers across the country raise this sweet, slightly nutty-tasting fish. Most market-ready trout comes from Idaho, where farmers send live fish to processing plants for filleting.


  • 2 rainbow trout, butterfly filleted (about a pound each before heads are removed, 9 ounces after cleaning with heads taken off)
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, sliced
  • Lemon pepper (use an unsalted blend, about 1/2 teaspoon total)
  • Lemon wedges


Heat broiler to high. Rinse trout and pat dry. Open fish and place skin-side-down on a foil-lined broiler pan. Dot with butter or margarine and sprinkle with almonds and lemon pepper. Broil about 5 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Serves 2

Each serving contains about 309 calories, 3 g carbohydrates, 36 g protein, 16 g fat, 93 mg sodium, and 0 g fiber.

To make this recipe gluten-free, use only spices or condiments that are gluten-free. Read food labels carefully and contact the company if you have any questions.


Recipe from the StayWell Company, LLC.

Title & Total Compensation Project – Standard Job Description Library is Posted


The University of Wisconsin System has embarked on a complete redesign of its current classification and compensation structure. The goal of the Title & Total Compensation Project is to modernize the existing title and compensation programs which will, in turn, attract and retain the best talent for the organization.

Initial job mapping has wrapped up on the UW-Green Bay campus, and the next step will be employee-manager conversations starting in December, 2019. To prepare for these conversations, the UW System has recently published the Standard Job Description Library. The library includes drafts of proposed standardized job titles and job descriptions for Academic Staff, University Staff, and Limited Appointees. The library is meant as a reference tool for employees, managers, and HR staff to use during employee-manager conversations which will begin in December (and last through Spring 2020).This library will continue to be updated based on feedback gathered through the employee-manager conversation period.

As a reminder, if you are interested in learning about the background and history of the project, current status, and additional information about the employee-manager conversations, please consider attending one of the November open forums, scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. in the Christie Theatre
  • Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in the Christie Theatre

UW System has also published additional resources, including explainer videos and an eLearning module on their Resources page.