The Shift from HR to Employee Experience

The role of HR as a business unit has and will continue to evolve over the years. At Illuminate, Reflektive’s conference by people leaders, for people leaders, Mark Levy — head of employee experience at Allbirds, formerly of Airbnb — explored shifting away from the antiquated approach to HR and toward the overall employee experience.

Levy joined Airbnb in 2013 to help the company scale as it disrupted the travel industry — without dismantling the existing culture. To do this, he honed in on the employee experience.

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What is the employee experience?
First and foremost, it’s a mindset shift. Levy suggested approaching employees as you would your customers, doing things with and for them instead of to them.

The old way of doing HR consisted of HR defining an existing problem, creating a strategy, and assigning action items to employees. In a reimagined approach, listening and co-creating with employees becomes the new way of working together. Companies can do this by identifying problems closest to the source — via employee surveys, candid conversations, etc. — and working together collaboratively to solve them.

With this mindset, Levy helped Airbnb positively disrupt its employee experience. As an example, he developed a new human-centered design of Airbnb’s call center by working side-by-side with those in the midst of it every day. When feedback indicated employees desired resources to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, he allocated budget and time to find the right tool that would address these issues.

Levy is currently applying his learnings from Airbnb to Allbirds.

“We are co-creating better work in a better way by giving our employees a voice,” said Levy. “Asking employees how they envision the optimal working environment and then acting on their input brings the employee experience to life.”

Ultimately, Levy recommends all functions that touch the employee journey are in service to the employee. To ensure he has the tools to do so, Levy has utilized Reflektive at both Airbnb and now at Allbirds.

See more from Illuminate here.