How Airbnb makes work meaningful for its employees

You can tell Airbnb is a little bit different from traditional employers when you check out the careers page on its website. We talked to Mark Levy, Director of Employee Experience, to find out how the company’s approach works for the business and it’s staff.

The first sign that Airbnb cares about how its people feel about work, is the very fact that Mark Levy has Director of Employee Experience as his job title. You couldn’t ask for a clearer showing that improving the employee experience matters to the travel brand.

If you need further evidence, its “Create, Learn, Play” workplace philosophy sets out its thinking:

  • Create: We build the best experience for our community – as a team.
  • Learn: We look inside and outside for inspiration and learning.
  • Play: Life is what happens when you’re busy working. We make sure to enjoy it.

Living the values

But Levy is not interested in the approach that sticks signs on the wall that espouse the company’s beliefs – he wants people to live it every day. He also wants it to reflect the wider business.

“Being a host is one of our most important values, and it is how we behave both with one another, and everyone else,” he insists. So the care and consideration shown to guests who stay at Airbnb properties is reflected in its wider approach throughout the business.

Levy wants people to feel the company’s mission and values when they walk through the door, when they deal with someone, not just pay lip service to them. Most of all he wants to create an environment where “employees can be their best self at work, particularly given how much time is spent there, doing something that creates meaning both in their life and work.”

So how does Airbnb help employees create meaning?

Levy pulled together all the teams that support the employee journey, from recruitment to becoming company alumni. He expanded the team and created a coherent whole greater than the sum of the parts.

He started by adding specialisation, rewards, talent partners and talent programs. “And then we added in things like food and facilities, safety and security,” he says. He also introduced ‘citizenship’ which allows employees 4 hours a month to volunteer in their local area – to give something back.

Airbnb encourages learning, wants employees to be open-minded, flexible, collaborative, passionate, care about quality and bring their joy to work. They are expected to work hard, brainstorm and laugh a lot. Working in an environment like that helps make work more meaningful.

Levy says his role is to “recruit passionate believers in Airbnb’s values, and to ensure these values transcend the business globally”.

“Our mission,” he explains, “is to create a workforce where you can belong anywhere, but in employee experience we’re focused on how we can make people feel like they belong here.”

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