How this Silicon Valley company engages employees

(Story by Steven Parker originally appeared in BenefitsPro)

For many, the words “Silicon Valley” conjure up images of geek-chic millennials playing ping-pong, drinking from kegerators and lounging in offices shaped like spaceships. Companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook go to great lengths to appeal to this demographic, and have won countless culture awards because of it. But there’s another segment of top talent driving the region’s innovation — and keeping them engaged requires an entirely different approach.

Mountain View-based Synopsys, a world leader in electronic design automation (EDA), creates the hardware found in most major computers and mobile devices. Synopsys employees are mostly male, from abroad, with a median age of 46.

Designed for a unique population

In 2014, Synopsys relaunched Designed for Wellness, an employee wellness program that supports all aspects of employee well-being.

While Synopsys employees often thrive under pressure, the HR team identified the need for employees to step back and recharge. They embraced this goal while creating the program’s look and feel, selecting a smooth, calming design that would feel like a break from the rest of the fast-paced, high-pressure day. The sign-in page features calming landscapes and a soft purple that reflects the corporate brand in a friendly, peaceful way.

Synopsys also knows that its co-CEOs are admired among the staff. The HR team positioned them as executive wellness champions — visibly taking advantage of the numerous wellness supports and sharing personal stories about their well-being improvement. During an annual Thanksgiving food drive where employees received points for each donation, the entire leadership team put on aprons and served lunch to the staff to show their support.

Supporting families

With a largely middle-aged population, many employees are married with families at home. Engaging spouses and domestic partners to participate in Designed for Wellness was a prime opportunity for inspiring change. In fact, a recent study found that the physical and mental health of a spouse can significantly affect the other spouse’s quality of life. To encourage spousal engagement, Synopsys launched a series of family-oriented challenges:

  • Better together: Eat dinner with your family, technology free
  • Rest the remote: Spend time with family not watching TV. Instead, do things such as play games, take walks together, etc.
  • All in the family: Get together with family (or friends) during the weekend
  • Family fitness: Exercise together

Supporting community

Synopsys and its people share a strong interest in their community. So the HR team partnered with the community affairs team to support their corporate volunteer initiatives through program challenges like giving blood, donating to a food bank, and rebuilding a local school. This cross-department effort has paid off — one in three registered users have participated in a Designed for Wellness community challenge.

“The wellness program has been a great avenue to get people excited about getting involved in the community by giving them another incentive to participate,” Jaimie Vargas, global community affairs manager said.

Inspiring positive change

Designed for Wellness is now an integral part of Synopsys — with over 66 percent of U.S. employees participating in the program. It’s also helping to energize the company’s culture of innovation.

“The wellness program is important to Synopsys because it’s part of our brand,” said Kevin Syvrud, vice president of HR. “It’s part of our engagement with employees on overall benefits. It helps people understand where they are within their wellness journey, and it helps them make better decisions.”