Why did Airbnb get rid of its HR department?

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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.”
  • Frederick on 2016-02-11 9:36:22 AM

    ...or they just expanded its role and changed its name...

  • Jen on 2016-02-11 1:56:58 PM

    Interesting that companies can brag about getting rid if Hr while still needing comp and benefits learning and OD, safety and security. So Airbnb was rid if some aspects of Hr but not all.

  • Lydia Madonia on 2016-02-12 2:58:56 AM

    Doing away with the HR title and traditional division is soon going to be the norm. HR as we know it and experienced it is no longer supporting the real and urgent need of a changing workplace. Transforming HR for a multi-generational, virtual, global, highly automated workplace is key to the success of any enterprise and its key stakeholders.

  • John Smith on 2016-02-19 3:49:45 AM

    So, they haven't got rid of their HR department at all. Misleading title...

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