HR Leaders: How to Stay Relevant

The world is changing—fast. Yvonne Bell of learning innovation company D2L shares tips on making sure you’re changing, too. ‘Be prepared for an increasingly digital workplace.’

The workplace has changed dramatically in the last few years. From the rise of remote work in the wake of the pandemic to the boom of AI, organizations and their employees are grappling with new challenges seemingly every day. And HR leaders are at the heart of it all, crafting the very fabric of the company—its people.

When it comes to building the best team to weather the storm of change, Yvonne Bell advises companies to broaden their focus. As senior vice president of people and culture at D2L, a global learning innovation company that provides digital tools to increase educational access, she knows success doesn’t just come from what you’ve got, but also how you grow. She shares just a few of her insights for HR professionals in this modern age.

What initiatives are you spearheading at D2L?

We’re dedicated to developing the skills, passions and creativity of our people, as we consider them essential to a successful culture at D2L. To ensure that employees are equipped and supported from the start, I’m currently focused on a few things: investing in our employees, recognizing their accomplishments, employee engagement, and DEI and belonging initiatives.

We are also actively invested in employee well-being and prioritizing mental health. Our benefits plan includes coverage for mental health services and we provide an employee assistance program and offer mental health courses, webinars and other resources to ensure employees feel fully supported.

What key takeaways or advice would you give other HR leaders trying to do the same?

When it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, focus on the activities that enhance manager and employee awareness, and share resources and best practices so that each employee is set up for success.

To build diverse teams and an inclusive company culture, don’t just look at who you hire, but how you’re hiring. Diversity, inclusion and belonging doesn’t end when a candidate is hired, so it’s important to develop actions and processes that positively support your ability to attract candidates, reduce biases in all stages of the recruitment process and through the entire employee lifecycle.

What are the top challenges or trends you anticipate for HR leaders this year?

Preparing for the future of work. HR leaders will need to be prepared for an increasingly digital workplace, with more remote working, generative AI and automation. This could involve developing strategies for upskilling and reskilling employees, as well as creating flexible policies to accommodate a more distributed workforce.

Strengthening diversity and inclusion initiatives. HR leaders should ensure that their organizations create a culture of inclusion and belonging, where all employees feel respected and valued. This could involve creating a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy, as well as implementing effective recruiting, retention and development programs.

Enhancing employee engagement. HR leaders need to find creative ways to engage their employees and strengthen their connection to the organization. This could involve developing new communication strategies, offering more opportunities for feedback and recognition, and creating a culture of trust and collaboration.

Any advice you would give to other HR leaders experiencing these challenges, or those looking to become HR leaders?

First and foremost, I recommend investing in employee development and training to ensure that you have a strong and engaged workforce. This can help ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge necessary to stay relevant and competitive in the job market. It also helps to keep employees engaged and motivated.

I also would advise HR leaders to build strong relationships across the company and to foster a culture of inclusion and diversity. A culture of inclusiveness and respect creates a corporate culture employees want to work for—improving morale, increasing creativity and attracting top talent.

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