How Canva built their employer brand from the inside out.
Canva has effortlessly woven itself into the tapestry of our everyday lives, much like Zoom, becoming an indispensable tool for millions. Boasting over 75 million monthly active users, the company anticipates generating more than a billion dollars in revenue by 2022.
This level of growth has set the stage for Canva to genuinely realise its tongue-in-cheek "Two-Step plan."
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Step 1: Ascend as one of the world's most valuable companies; and Step 2: "Maximise the positive impact we can create."
This creates a ripple effect behind a focused employer brand on recruitment and retention. Amber Brooks, People lead at Canva, says the singular people goal is to be a place where employees not only love coming to work, but where they also feel supported to do their best work.
Canva knew that companies with strong employer brands attract the best talent. With being in a hyper-growth phase, they opted to check-in on their culture to ensure they continue to be the best place to work for its team members and can continue to attract the best talent across the globe.
Focusing on amplifying their peoples voices about what goes on behind the scenes has helped amplify and validate who Canva is internally, to the external market. “We wanted to first understand what our own team members were thinking and feeling, and what they value most to help us focus on the right messaging externally.” In 2020, we received around 36,000 applications for positions across the organisation. In 2021 it was 64,000. Last year, we had 134,000. Being able to more clearly articulate our employer brand by focusing on the most important pieces of our culture has contributed to two-fold growth in application volume in the past year alone.
“At Canva we work hard to ensure everyone is aligned to our mission and vision and that every team member understands how they contribute, regardless of whether we’re in a physical or remote environment. For instance: We pride ourselves on a collaborative approach with new hires, facilitating discussions on how they feel their role will contribute to our goals and vision, our teams check-in on their strategies every season to sense check that today’s actions impact tomorrow's vision, and we’ve evolved our weekly “stand up” meetings to be at-home “sit downs,” where our teams share their goals and achievements and how their activity contributes to Canva’s overall mission.
We often use the analogy that we’re all in the one rowboat. If we’re not all rowing in the same direction, we go nowhere, fast. Whereas if we’re all rowing in the same direction, working towards the same vision, it can only lead to success.”
Canva's spirited culture has emerged as a shining example of adaptability, resilience, and innovation. Over the years, the company has built a solid foundation that now serves as the driving force behind its growth and success. Canva's exceptional people, or "Canvanauts," are at the heart of its achievements. Their ability to selflessly prioritise colleagues and their community, creatively tackle problems, and adapt quickly has been game-changing for their employee growth.
“We’ve really focused on clarity, specifically increasing intentional communication and being more diligent in documentation. We’ve leveraged our own product to facilitate virtual mind mapping and brainstorming sessions.
When we first went remote, we launched a remote working toolkit for the team to share best practices, tools and tips for working effectively. We also ran several remote working learning programs to build the unique skills needed to be successful.
We’ve also found educating the team on how to set clear routines and boundaries has helped. Without clear boundaries and a routine, you can end up responding to emails and meetings at all hours and feel like you’re working around the clock. This leads to people actually being less productive and eventually burning out.”
The dedication to Canva's culture goes beyond just the day-to-day operations of the business. When the company was just a small team of eight, culture might not have been at the forefront of their minds, but they were building it anyway. The co-founders realised that it was crucial to create a culture that enables the creation of a great company that, in turn, creates great products and since prioritising a creative place people love to be and shout about they have seen a staggering 370% increase in job applicants.
Canva's six core corporate values have played a significant role in shaping their culture and driving their success. These values include being a force for good, pursuing excellence, being a good human, making complex things simple, and setting crazy big goals and making them happen.
One particularly mindful example is the ambitious goal Canva set to internationalise its product. In 2015, they decided to make their design tool available in 100 languages by the end of 2017, a feat that took other tech giants like Facebook and Google nearly a decade. Through incredible cross-team collaboration and perseverance, Canva launched in its 100th language on December 24, 2017.
The Canva team has always been quick to adapt and innovate. They've made remote work a reality and a fun, productive experience for employees. The company provided clarity on work-from-home arrangements, including mobile internet allowances, lunch stipends, and flexibility for parents juggling at-home kids. Teams adjusted their cadences for video meetings and online collaboration, while the in-house gym went virtual with daily video training sessions. Partnerships were made with mindfulness apps to support mental health, and Canva's kitchen converted produce slated for company lunches into meals for those in need.
Canva's values have been strikingly evident in the way they support their employees and their community. Employees exemplify the "be a good human" value by creating Slack channels to share work-related information, offering assistance with moving office furniture, and supporting mental well-being. The Canva team embodies the "be a force for good" value by reaching out to their community to support those in need, assisting teachers with educational resources, and helping struggling businesses.
Despite losing some of the fun perks like shared lunches and rooftop yoga sessions, Canva's culture has proven to be much more than just surface-level benefits. The company's dedication to its values and the people who embody them has made Canva an inspiring place to work and a model for other businesses seeking to create an engaging and supportive environment.
Commitment to the culture has attracted top talent from all over the world. With a focus on empowering employees and fostering creativity, the company continues to grow and evolve. Canva's remarkable success is a testament to the power of a strong, well-defined culture that not only guides the business but also inspires individuals to be their best selves.
In a world where company culture is becoming increasingly important to attract and retain talent, they now stand out as a shining example. Their dedication to fostering a positive, innovative, and supportive work environment is a driving force behind their continued growth and success, making it an attractive destination for talented professionals worldwide.