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.”
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?