Canva has a new product geared at making HR teams’ lives easier

Design software darling Canva boasts more than 150 million monthly active users, many of whom who use the product to create social media content. Today, the company announced a new range of “Canva Enterprise” products and services that aim to redesign work and be sold as a subscription model to companies for their HR, marketing, and sales teams to use. 

For instance, new “Work Kits” will offer templates (based on Canva’s own best practices), which HR teams can use to make internal documents more automated and aesthetic. The kits will also integrate with other applications like Asana,, and Job and Resume AI.

New “Canva Courses” will let HR leaders create and assign courses—from onboarding sessions to upskilling lessons—and track employees’ progress and completion directly through Canva. Canva also rolled out updated AI features, such as a revamped AI-powered photo editor, which allows users to move, remove, and edit any object in an image.

Canva’s Work Kits announcement is just one example of how HR has become increasingly tech-powered—and even more so over the past several years with advancements in AI.

[Photo: Canva]

Jennie Rogerson, Global Head of People at Canva, has seen this trend firsthand. Rogerson joined Canva in 2019 as an executive assistant to Canva’s CEO Melanie Perkins. When Canva didn’t have a head of customer support, Rogerson filled in to run the customer support team. And when Canva’s former Global Head of People left the Australian company to move back home to the U.S., Rogerson stepped up. When she was formally offered the position of Head of People, Rogerson initially refused. “I pretty much immediately said, ‘No thanks, I don’t have any experience,’” she remembers. 

The HR executive says she grew up in a rural area and “never had a career path in mind.” Now, Rogerson oversees a people team of 450 who are responsible for everything from employee satisfaction and engagement to recruiting and hiring. 

Fast Company spoke with Rogerson to discuss the new technologies that are changing the HR field, and the workers they impact. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

HR used to be a very cut-and-dry profession, but many organizations now seem to see HR materials as a branding opportunity. What role is aesthetics and visual communications playing among HR leaders right now?

As a whole, the world’s generally become more visual, because there is so much noise that we all have to battle through on a daily basis. So really synthesizing key core messaging and making sure that it cuts through the noise and delivers the right messaging at the right time has been increasingly important. 

And so what we’re aiming to do with Canva is really make sure that teams are able to do that. At Canva internally what we do is make sure that at every point there’s brand consistency: from the second you see the talent brand out in the market, right through recruitment, right through every single individual interaction in between. 

[Work Kits] include all of the best bits of what we do and all of the templates that we’ve created that Canva built into templates, so other organizations can use them. So whether you’re a startup or an enterprise you have that template already built and you can build on. Then the first scary blank-page moment is taken away, and you can take something that’s been vetted by other professionals in your area, and really make it your own. 

Templating, automating, and AI are the conversations of the moment for most software companies. How is Canva integrating AI into its product? 

The first thing that I think about when I think about AI is: Is it AI or automation? Those two things are not the same thing. We should be really being really clear on if something is system improvement through automation—because that is one thing and it’s really incredibly helpful—versus: Is it AI?

For AI, for example, how we really think about, especially in HR, use over gimmick. Like, what’s a gimmick and not very helpful versus what’s actually genuinely going to improve the lives of your team?

[For example], we just did a people workshop a few months ago about what our goals are going to be for the next year ahead. We had that entire people team, which is 400 people, all contribute to a whiteboard. This created hundreds of hundreds of sticky notes that some poor soul would have to sit down, collate them all, theme them. With Canva we built it so that AI will turn your entire whiteboard into a document with just one click. So what that will do is it will theme it. Like, here are the top seven themes from all of your whiteboards. And here’s a paragraph about each of them.

Then I could just present that back to the team and say, “Does this resonate? Is this actually what we’re saying? Let’s just workshop this a bit.” And when I talk to the operations team who support us, I said, “How much time would save? What would this have taken?” And they said it would probably take three people six hours each to take all of those sticky notes, collate them, cross-reference, etc. Now, those operations team members are able to do something completely different with that time, work on something more strategic, or work on what actually comes next to drive us forward. 

We also have Canva translate. So you can take your onboarding deck and turn it into Mandarin, or turn into German for your German-speaking teams. And we see that as a way to increase belonging in a really simple way. Like with one click of a button, you’ve turned it from English to German and you’ve made that person who’s joined in Germany feel really appreciated. . . . But it took your team a grand total of 10 seconds. I think that’s the way I start to think about AI and HR. It’s those actual use cases, rather than something that’s gimmicky or layered on top.

One of the anxieties I hear from workers is that if they’re more productive, they’re just going to get assigned more work. What do you think about the productivity and time gains that AI might give workers?

I think AI is a really useful tool to make your teams more efficient. I don’t necessarily know that efficiency and productivity are the same. And so I think that efficiency is incredibly helpful for making sure that something that would have taken X amount of time, can be done sooner. I think then it’s up to individual teams to really assess—like, with those spare six hours that I was talking, what are we going to spend this [on] and being really clear on what that is. But also measuring based on impact, rather than just pure output.

Canva received a record-breaking 350,000 job applications this past year. From my perspective, AI tools like applicant tracking systems are one of the biggest ways AI is disrupting HR and people management. Are you using any AI in your hiring? 

I think the thing that is really important in our hiring is that each application is reviewed by someone. We’ve done a lot to make sure that our talent strategy is really looking for talent where you might not have historically looked. So for example, we’ve removed all degree requirements from our job ads. We’re also really looking at . . . moving people from other industries—like from construction into tech. And so we’re looking in places that we haven’t historically been looking to make sure that we’re finding talent that exists out there that just might not have opportunities in tech. 

Tech plays into that in a big way, because however you systemize something, it could kick out a lot of people that actually might be really beneficial [to consider]. Something that we are trying to do is balance how we make sure that tech works for us to make our team as efficient as they can be, but at the same time, make sure that we’re not losing quality candidates that are superbly important and could really benefit the company.

More broadly, how have you seen HR become more tech-enabled since starting this role?

I think HR teams globally are being asked to do more with much less, generally. One of the key levers is looking at the tech that you’re implementing and ensuring that it’s the most beneficial, the simplest, and makes the biggest [impact].

I think it started, perhaps as a necessity, but has now moved into the case of: How do we make this a really fantastic experience for our team? So making sure that every bit of tech that you’re using is simple and aligned with how you work; making sure that employees experience a natural flow and not a disjointed experience.

But also, in the same way that we were talking earlier, we’ll also be looking at automation. What can be automated, so that there’s no manual handling of tasks? And on top of that, how does AI play in? 

I’ve seen reports that say AI is more likely to replace women, and HR is a field that has historically been driven by women. Do you have any thoughts or concerns about this?

I feel super strongly about this. I’m so excited you asked me this. 

I joined Canva as an executive assistant [or an EA], which is one the roles that people talk about [eliminating] the most. . . . And I think the biggest thing for me is really looking at those roles, not just in their output, but their impact. 

So for example, I was talking to my EA not long ago, and 40% of her work is scheduling, which means that 60% is not. Then we started looking into what that [work] was. So I said, “If you took that 40% and reduced it down to 5% because all the scheduling can be done with a few clicks of a few buttons, what would you replace that time with?”

I’ll use her as an example, but I think this could be broadly seen across the EA spectrum. EA’s often have off-the-charts emotional intelligence. They have so many relationships. They know everyone frontwards and backwards. They know how things work, who to get things done by, who is actually working on things, and how those teams operate. And so with all of those skills, how do you put that to use in your company is such a great question to be asking. It’s not a case in which because scheduling is done, it’s time to move [someone] out of the company. 

If administrative work is reduced, how do we utilize these skills that have been built over time to benefit the company in other ways? And so I think it’s a really exciting time, actually, for women who have historically been in administrative roles.

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