Most anyone who has done even a small amount of traveling knows about Airbnb. The company has transformed how travelers get accommodations, interact with new cultures, and visit locations around the world. But beyond the customer-facing model, the company is also a leader in creating a strong employee experience. Instead of following the traditional business model, Airbnb creates change and empowers employees at all levels, which has a huge effect on the success of the company, both monetarily and culturally. In fact, Airbnb was ranked the number sixth company on the Employee Experience Index. The index ranks and scores 252 organizations around the world based on seventeen variables across three environments which are: culture, technology, and the physical workspace. You can view their ranking here.
You don’t have to be in the global hospitality business to learn from Airbnb; here are three principles from the company on creating a strong employee experience that will lead your company towards the future.
1. Involve employees. Employees who are involved in any aspect of the company have more ownership, but especially so when it comes to things that affect their everyday work lives. Employee experience at Airbnb includes everything from where employees work to what they eat during the day. With employees spending so much of their time at work, it is vital to get their input and involve them in creating an experience that they want to have at work. A driving force behind employee experience at Airbnb is that engaging employees leads to a better workplace and increased customer satisfaction. Basically, engaged and happy employees make it easier to have engaged and happy customers. Airbnb is constantly considering what employees need to thrive and be successful and getting their feedback to create an experience that sets them up for success.
2. Be authentic. The driving force behind everything Airbnb does is its mission to create a world where everyone feels like they belong. Having an overarching purpose or mission helps drive decisions and leads people in the right decisions. According to Mark Levy, the Global Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb, a truly strong employee experience is driven from the top and starts with the passions and mission of the leadership team. The founders and executives set the culture and purpose, which is then fed into all other aspects of the experience. With a strong purpose, all employees can easily see why leaders are doing what they are doing. Authenticity helps make sure every aspect of the employee experience is truly focused on the employees and helps them balance their work and personal lives. Most Airbnb employees want to work for the company because they love the mission, which means they are also passionate about the experience that comes out of that mission.
3. Continually evolve. Having a purpose-driven employee experience doesn’t mean that each initiative will automatically be successful. Having a great employee experience is also about evolving and adjusting to meet the needs of employees as situations change. Airbnb has a unique office space it calls Belong Anywhere where employees don’t have desks and offices, but rather landing stations to charge computers and lock up their belongings. They can find the place throughout the office “city” where they work best for each task, whether its a quiet library setting, a busier area that feels like an airport, or a large kitchen table for group meetings. Although the setup is incredibly successful now, it didn’t work out well initially and was a complete free for all. After receiving employee feedback and examining what went wrong, leaders discovered they had built a city without neighborhoods and employees felt lost and overwhelmed. By making the small change of better defining the different areas and helping employees find their best work place, things have been much smoother and employees are much happier with their work situation. Being open to suggestions and listening to feedback doesn’t just happen during the creation phase — it should be a constant part of the employee experience.
Employee experience is a hallmark of a forward-thinking company that cares about its employees and wants to provide them with the resources to be successful. While the exact experience will look different at each organization, companies that can follow the principles of Airbnb will be on the path to success.
Listen here for more on how Airbnb creates amazing employee experiences.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, March 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.
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