Workplace as an Experience

Customer experience is the next competitive battleground. It’s where business is going to be won or lost.

Companies like Airbnb are taking this to heart … to the very heart of their organization, their workforce. Back in 2015, Airbnb with over 1,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries, asked themselves the question, “If Airbnb had a Customer Experience Group, why not create an Employee Experience Group?” So gone went Airbnb’s Human Resource department and Human Resource Director … or did it?

Workplace as an experience

The essence of the “workplace as an experience” is where all the elements of work—the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, the virtual, and the aspirational—are carefully orchestrated to inspire employees, according to Airbnb.


The typical HR functions such as recruiting, talent management and development, HR operations, and total rewards, are still led by Mark Levy’s, Global Head of Employee Experiences Group at Airbnb. But, permeating throughout the function is the “workplace as an experience” essence.

Every aspect of creating the employee experience is focused on designing an extraordinary physical, emotional, intellectual, virtual, and aspirational experience for Airbnb employees. From the tasty and healthy menus for their free meals to the meeting rooms offered are inspired by active Airbnb listings.

How may I help you today?

Just as companies focus relentlessly on their customers and how their needs and expectations change, so should Human Resources focus on employees in a similar way.

As we’ve seen with Airbnb, applying customer experience strategy to employee experience begins with needs-based segmentation, grouping employees into clusters based on their wants and needs. Many companies organize employees in standard groupings like job title, rank, department, business unit, or geography. But just as customer experience design requires a more nuanced understanding of customers than simple demographics or economic value, employee experience design should be based on employees’ drivers and desires.

It isn’t breaking news that employees don’t all want the same development opportunities, rewards, and schedules. They differ in their level of interest in communicating and participating and in the kind of compensation and rewards they value. Companies should be able to provide experiences designed to appeal to these different segments.

At Airbnb, different employee experiences via facilities, food, global citizenship, are available. There are also volunteer employees in most offices called ground control, who focus on bringing the Airbnb culture to life through workplace environments, internal communications, as well as employee events, celebration, and recognition.

It’s a journey

Another tool HR can borrow from customer experience is the journey map, which outlines the steps customers go through in engaging with a company. This approach can be applied to employees through the employment life cycle as well. To be clear though, we’re not talking improving employee engagement. Employee engagement originates in more fundamental aspects of a company’s operation, including structure, approach to management, processes and how employees work as a team to address issues.

And like any customer journey map, regular review, editing and quick remediation are needed. What drives your employees crazy? Employee experience leaders like Airbnb, regularly use pulse surveys and feedback tools, check-in’s, employee-curated learning platforms, and many other tools that help get a total understanding of what makes employees happy and productive.

The essential question for senior Human Resource leaders is not whether, but when and how, your company will create the “workplace as an experience,” tapping into the physical, emotional, intellectual, virtual, and aspirational facets of how an employee is engaged and productive in the workplace.

Want More Details?

AKT presents the latest findings in HR Delivery in the Digital Age white paper, and we describe how HR managers and leaders should embrace this new Digital HR paradigm.

Download free AKT’s White Paper on:

HR Delivery in the Digital Age