Fran Melmed

About the Author

Fran Melmed is an award-winning HR communications consultant specializing in workplace wellness and health care consumerism. Prior to founding context communication consulting llc context communication, Fran worked at Hewitt Associates in their Talent and Organizational Change and Communication practices in the U.S. and U.K. Contact her at fran@contextcommunication.com, and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/femelmed.

Three Days for Death (or Why HR Policies Make No Sense)

Editor’s Note: A number of TLNT readers have asked about this post recently, so here it is again in case you missed it originally. This past week a member of my husband’s team suffered a devastating loss: his one-year-old daughter died, which sent my husband — his manager — looking into the company’s…

Our Email Addiction: Can We Keep it From Following Us Home From Work?

According to a new survey by GFI Software, email is alive and doing well in small- to mid-sized America. Some 44 percent of respondents use email over other available channels, such as instant messaging (6 percent), face-to-face (22 percent), and phone (28 percent). They’re also quick to review and respond to email, with…

How Far Can Employers Go In Mandating What Employees Eat?

I’ve yet to talk with someone about employee wellness without hearing about how an employer allows — if not actually provides — donuts or cupcakes or something similar at meetings. The underlying message is this: the employer can’t be very serious about wellness if they’re still offering such junk food regularly. I don’t…

The Workplace Ethics of Not Hiring Tobacco Users

As more employers consider how to reduce the percentage of tobacco users in their workforces, one policy in particular has raised eyebrows and hackles more than others: No-hire tobacco policies. Today, it’s mostly health care systems implementing these policies barring the hiring of tobacco users. They easily argue the importance of employing a…

The Wellness Dilemma: Getting More Employee “Skin in the Game”

Last month I shared a story on health care costs titled The Bitter Pill. That might’ve been what CVS felt they swallowed when they saw their name splashed across the virtual front pages of Fox News, The Huffington Post, The Today Show, The Washington Post, and The Boston Herald, who “broke the story”…

What to Tell Workers About That New Health Care Costs Line on the W-2

Whoa! What’s that new line item on my W-2? Is that taxable? Employers are starting to field questions like these from their employees. That’s because employees are having their eyes opened to the actual cost of their employer-provided health care benefits. Some employees have seen the value of these benefits before in company-wide…

Pew Study Shows That Employees Are Turning Into Health Care Consumers

Employees have heard you loud and clear, Ms. and Mr. Employer. They got the message that it’s time to become a savvy health care consumer. They’re out there researching medical ailments and specific diseases, trying to understand medical procedures, and figuring out how their health insurance works and how to reduce their health…

Aon Hewitt Study: Stress Keeps Your Workers from Being Healthy

We have such good intentions, particularly at this time of year. We intend to eat better, get more sleep, head to the gym more often, budget better. Then life happens and our good intentions get sidetracked, put off, discarded. That sweet spot between intentions and outcomes is the focus of Aon Hewitt’s 2013…

13 Easy and (Mostly) Low-Cost Employee Wellness Changes for 2013

Right about now, your employees are wondering whether they’ll keep their new resolutions or dust off the old ones and give them one more go. Even your employees who didn’t make resolutions are likely stewing over possible ones as they listen to everyone talk about strategies for keeping theirs for this year. Since…

Connecting With Workers About Health Care? Call Their Cell Phone

Our phones are fast becoming the ATM of health. That’s the upshot from the Pew Mobile Health 2012 report. Some 85 percent of American adults own a cell phone today, and 31 percent of them turn to their phones for health or medical information, up from 17 percent since this study was last conducted…

More Employers Working to Help Employees Stop Smoking

Employers are highly attuned to the risks of tobacco use, particularly when it comes to the business and human toll. Tobacco use is, of course, associated with higher health care costs for tobacco users. It’s also tied to lowered productivity and higher workers’ compensation, disability benefits and absenteeism. For non-tobacco users, the exposure…

Why You Need a Few Silicon Valley-Style Perks for Your Employees

Companies in California’s Silicon Valley are sending employees home with dinner and the cleaners to wash up afterward. These perks aren’t reserved for the C-suite, either. At Evernote, every single employee gets their home cleaned twice a month for free. The Stanford school of Medicine is piloting a similar project, but they’vealso  tossed…

Don’t Go Into a Communications Hibernation When Open Enrollment Ends

Right now many companies are deep in the throes of annual enrollment. They’ve spent countless hours with benefits consultants determining the changes to their benefits plans, followed by countless additional hours figuring out how to communicate these changes to employees and their families. Most companies have tough messages to share. Big premium increases….

2012 Health Care Survey Lays Out 3 Ways For Employers to Rein In Costs

Aon Hewitt’s released their 2012 Health Care Survey and provided their findings and reactions to employers’ planned tactics to rein in costs. It lays out three choices for employers: They can stay the course and try to figure out how to balance 8–9 percent medical cost trend increases against what surely will soon…

Four Factors That Will Help Hold Down Medical Cost Increases in 2013

Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) released a study last month that projects another year of low medical cost trends. They project an increase of 7.5 percent, the same as in 2012. Ccertainly, a portion of thanks goes to the economy, which has constrained utilization. PwC also identifies four factors that will deflate 2013 medical cost trend:…

Why There Is a Big Employer Focus on Getting Employees to Stop Smoking

Tobacco use holds a top spot among the health risks employers focus on through their wellness programs. You may wonder why. After all, public bans on tobacco use at work, restaurants and even in homes must be making a dent, right? Well, yes and no. Tobacco use steadily declined from 2000 to 2005,…

Survey: How Innovative Employers Use Technology to Improve Health

ShapeUp and context released the findings from our first annual Technology + Employee Wellness Survey this week. Over the past six months, we’ve collaborated on the development, administration and analysis of an annual survey that will track employer adoption and application of health technologies such as mobile apps, sensors, trackers, forums and social…

What Are You Doing For Employees During National Wellness Month?

June is National Employee Wellness Month, an annual recognition of the importance of employee well-being that Virgin HealthMiles initiated in 2009. One might ask why we need a month dedicated to employee wellness. I did. After all, I advise my clients to make wellness a year-round way of being, not an event. We…

5 Tools to Help Get Employees Up and Out of Their Desks

We know prolonged sitting is detrimental to individual and business health. Prolonged sitting decreases productivity and creativity and ratchets up stress. Research now links prolonged sitting to more extreme health risks, such as obesity, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease, and even an earlier death. The research is telling us: We need to unseat…