Why Airbnb got rid of its HR department

Airbnb has decided to do away with its HR function, replacing it with a new group focused entirely on ‘employee experience’

Why Airbnb got rid of its HR department
Airbnb is one of the few large global organisations without an HR department or even a CHRO. The decision to do away with HR coincided with the creation of a new function within the company called ‘employee experience’. So what is this and how does it differ from HR?
 
Traditionally, HR at Airbnb was broken up into three groups – talent, recruitment and ground control (which dealt with workplace culture) – Mark Levy, the company’s global head of employee experience told Forbes.
 
“They all reported up into different places,” he said.
 
Levy spoke of a discussion with Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, where the pair tried to work out how to bring all the different departments together.
 
“I said, ’You have a customer experience group. Why don’t we create an employee experience group?’”
 
The resulting function joins the three initial groups and adds specialisations such as compensation & benefits, learning & organisational development, facilities, safety & security, and the food program.
 
“Essentially we are everything, starting with the roof over the employees’ heads,” he said. “[We’re] their whole journey from the time they get contacted or they contact us through their entire employee experience.”
 
Levy said that the customer experience function at Airbnb is a broader role than HR since HR doesn’t traditionally encompass facilities, food, etc.
 
The reason for this change stemmed from Airbnb’s primary mission to create a global sense of community, he told Forbes.
 
“We have to look after both our hosts who open their homes [and] also the guests who are staying. [This] all comes to life through our employees.”
 
By creating an “inside out strategy,” Levy hopes to instil a sense of belonging among his staff.
 
“Our mission is to create a world where you can belong anywhere. We believe that in order for us to be able to do that, we need to create a way in which our employees feel like they belong here. That belonging starts here and then moves out.”
 
Related stories:
 
Government to re-engineer its HR policies
 
Are interim managers your next critical link?
 
Should you employ a Chief External Officer?

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