Meet Fran Melmed: Co-founder of CoHealth, passionate about health, avid blogger on workplace wellness, free-range communication, and publisher of the  Co_Health Daily since October 2010.

SR: Why CoHealth?

Fran: Health’s a real passion of mine, and I’d like to see employers and employees thinking more creatively, simply and positively about workplace wellness–and seeing better results from their efforts. I co-founded CoHealth with Greg Matthews more than a year ago to bring together all of the people and voices keen to improve workplace wellness efforts.

Right now, our CoHealth community consists of HR (wellness and benefits managers, VPs of HR), communication professionals, wellness partners and innovators, consultants, health care marketing professionals and people in public health. I’d like to see this base grow and add insurers, who are a major part of the solution too.

SR: How are employers addressing health and wellness ?

Fran: Employers are addressing health and wellness in a variety of ways. It depends on their goals, the maturity of their process and a variety of other factors. When most employers say they have a wellness program, they mean they have programs to help employees eat better, move more and quit tobacco. They’ll generally have incentives for using these services as well as for completing a health risk assessment, although more are considering or have already moved to penalties instead. Surcharges for being a tobacco user, for example. More are also moving to consumer-directed health plans, a high-deductible health plan that’s designed to make employees more aware of health care costs when choosing health services.

Less common approaches include value-based benefits design, which constructs the way benefits work to encourage or discourage certain treatment. For example, eliminating copays and the cost of medical aids for diabetic and asthmatic patients. Also less common is the inclusion of financial health as part of the equation and an examination of talent practices and the physical environment to see how they interfere with health and well-being.

SR: What builds a healthy and happy workplace?

Fran: A healthy and happy workplace considers our physical well-being. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to consider how our emotional well-being connects to our physical well-being. In that way, there’s a definition of engagement (in the classic HR sense) I think fits here. And that’s the notion that we’re engaged when we work with people we trust and connect with, feel we’re doing something that makes a difference, and see our ability to direct our path and to grow.

SR:  What can we do to make our day more productive and less stressful?

Fran: If I had to choose five things, I’d pick the classics that work no matter the job: prioritize your daily tasks, eat with friends, find ways to move throughout the day, breathe through stressful times, and get comfortable with the fact that there’ll always be work left at the end of the day. We overlook small things because we consider them trivial. Small things like these make a major difference.

SR: What type of tools do you use to reach out to your community?

Fran: The Co_Health Daily is one way we deliver information to our community. It helps me and others to keep on top of all of the news that’s out there, and in a more aesthetically pleasing way than via a Twitter stream. I also like that people can subscribe to it, as I know many of our members aren’t on Twitter. They can get the Paper.li sent to their inbox.

We also host a monthly tweet chat on the third Wednesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. (ET). During this tweet chat, we explore hot topics around workplace wellness, like design, communication and social strategies, incentives and penalties, and a bunch more.

Our next chat is June 15. We’ll be discussing Jamie Oliver and IDEO’s collaboration, Cooking & Company, which brings the Food Revolution to the office. We’ve had some great tweet chats this year, and we have more ahead. People can find our 2011 tweet chat calendar, agendas and recaps here. Besides the tweet chat, we also have a LinkedIn group and a home on the Employee Wellness Network.

Subscribe to the Co_Health Daily and learn more about Wellness in the Workplace. Connect with Fran below. 

Kelly Hungerford
Community Builder| Customer Experience & Care Strategist
Kelly's a Digital Operations Specialist and Social Brand Strategist. She helps Startups and SMBs build lean marketing operations leveraging Social Media to support business goals and connect with the people who matter most.

As former Head of Community and Communications for Paper.li, she was responsible for building community-centric operations to support Paper.li's rapidly growing user-base and founding #BizHeroes, Paper.li's Brand Twitter Chat that takes place Tuesdays at 2pm ET.

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