Changemaker Spotlight: Kerstin Aiello at Synopsys and the power of small wins
By: Jennie Overton
Since Kerstin Aiello, senior benefits manager at Synopsys, launched Limeade in 2014, employee’s energy levels, job satisfaction and confidence in their company have improved. They’ve also improved in every biometric category.
It’s a big accomplishment, but as Kerstin would say, “All of my wins are small wins — they just add up.”
This mindset helps her navigate a difficult-to-reach employee population and keeps her open to experimenting, testing and not being afraid to fail.
“In HR you use so many skills — analytics, communications, creativity — it’s not a job that’s singularly focused. You can also make a difference five minutes at a time. Someone might be distressed or confused about their resources. You can educate them, direct them to programs and make a small difference in their life,” said Kerstin.
“When we decided to look for a new well-being vendor, I started our search with “speed dating” demos to get a sense of the user experience. Many of them were cartoony and I knew our people wouldn’t embrace that. We chose Limeade because of its flexibility to design the whole look and feel to fit our culture. We can also support the whole-person throughout the year — not just around a single event.”
Get creative to reach your people
Once the program launched, Kerstin needed to find a way to reach her people. She leveraged their affinity for feedback and distributed a survey to understand how they wanted to be contacted. Her findings included:
Social media: “No.”
Text messages: “Only if there’s a deadline coming up.”
Email: “Yes, but each one should focus on a single topic.”
Kerstin and her team listened — and got creative. They adjusted their emails to focus on a single challenge, activity or deadline. They designed removable stickers that were placed in unexpected areas like refrigerators, bathroom sinks or entrances and exits. She’s seen the simple yet impactful stickers gain recognition over time.
She also tailors her strategy to support the cultural diversity at Synopsys. While most employees speak English, everything is provided in writing to ensure clarity for those still learning. She also avoids buzzwords that may have a different connotation in other cultures. So instead of a “Mindfulness” challenge, she’ll call it the “Go on a Tech Diet” challenge.
Sometimes her ideas don’t work — and to Kerstin, that’s OK.
“Last year we created a beautiful fold-out mailer that was delivered to employees’ homes. It had lots of color and pictures of families. As it turns out, it was too pretty so they thought it was a sales piece from an outside vendor — and immediately tossed it. Now we make sure our mailers get right to the point.”
Most recently Kerstin’s team tested out cold-calls to employees not taking advantage of their 401k and after-tax-feature. These programs are complex and can require more explanation. Asa result of these calls, new participants are joining every day. It’s another small but impactful win for Kerstin and her team.
Taking the time to understand Synopsys’ population is paying off. More than 66 percent of eligible employees participate and more are joining every day. With a successful foundation, Kerstin is now shifting her focus to more targeted solutions for specific benefit gaps.
Working with other Silicon Valley companies, she’s exploring near-site clinics, telephonic services and other creative solutions to make mental health more accessible.
“I hope my team would say that I’m open to hearing new ideas and new ways of doing things. I want them to feel empowered and to bring forward any and all ideas,” said Kerstin.
Why is Kerstin Aiello a Limeade Changemaker?
Kerstin is relentlessly optimistic and cares deeply. She takes the time to understand her employee population. Kerstin goes above and beyond to tailor her approach to make sure every piece of communication is meaningful.
At Limeade, we want to improve well-being in the world, and we can’t do it without Changemakers like Kerstin Aiello.