My head is spinning from keeping tabs on all that I have to do, and I can hardly breathe it’s so hot outside. So, basically, it’s the start of a typical D.C. summer! With the head spinning and not breathing and whatnot, I’m turning things over today to guest blogger Sean Conrad, a certified human capital strategist at Halogen Software. He’s offering some reminders on walking the talk when it comes to wellness. Nothing groundbreaking I think, but — as you all know from benefits communications — it’s important to say these things more than once (or twice, or a hundred times). As always, share your thoughts in the comments. —K.B.

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When it comes to employee wellness, plenty of organizations tout its importance, but actions always speak louder than words. If you don't strategically support your wellness goals, then your organization is paying lip service to something critically important to creating a high performing and engaged workforce.

If you truly want to make employee wellness a strategic priority, you can leverage your talent management programs to support it. Here are some of the practical ways your talent management programs can help:

* Ensure employees have reasonable workloads. If you're serious about employee wellness, you need to start with work-life balance and ensure that all employees have a reasonable workload. Because balance is a dynamic and not a static thing, managers must regularly adjust employees' workloads to ensure goals remain achieveable. Here are six ways HR/benefits professionals can help:

1. Train managers on how to write employee goals. It's not an easy skill to master, and when you only do it once a year, it's easy to forget best practices. In your training, remind managers to consider workload when establishing goals.

2. Provide written instructions for writing good goals, and an example right on your performance appraisal form. Your form is a great place to remind managers to consider workload when writing goals.

3. Limit the number of goals that can be added to your performance appraisal form. Without guidance and limits, it's easy for managers to go overboard and assign too many goals to employees.

4. Involve employees in the goal-writing process. Including them in this process fosters a dialogue about workload, performance, expectations and employee wellness. As a bonus, employees tend to be more engaged when they help set their own goals.

5. Include periodic (e.g., quarterly) goal-review sessions as part of your performance management process. Invite managers and employees to meet regularly to review progress on goals and make any workload adjustment to ensure work-life balance and wellness.

6. Make wellness a core competency. Define "how" you want work to be accomplished. It can be the key differentiator that sets your organization apart from the competition. For example, you could define wellness as a core competency as: “Supports activities and programs that enhance work-life balance and employee well-being or encourages the development of friendships at work. Initiates conversations with employees aimed at assessing and improving their level of satisfaction with the entire range of benefits programs. This contrasts with discouraging participation in sports or community service activities that are not directly connected to producing products or services, seeing little value in promoting friendships at work or viewing work-life balance and wellness programs as a threat to productivity.” Then, evaluate every employee and manager's demonstration of this competency as part of their performance appraisal, and provide coaching or development to improve this skill where needed.

* Measure and monitor. Conducting regular performance reviews that include a review of performance on wellness goals and demonstration of wellness supporting competencies helps keep employees motivated and accountable for supporting employee wellness. The strategy here is to encourage an ongoing dialogue between managers and employees about the importance of wellness and how to best support employees and the organization in achieving it. 

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