Airbnb Employees Speak Out About Company Bullying Tactics & ‘Toxic’ Work Environment
According to current and former employees, the corporate culture at Airbnb has become ‘toxic’ over the last year. In 2015, Glassdoor ranked the company as the #1 place to work, in 2017 that ranking dropped to 35th, and many employees are speaking out. A person who has worked in Airbnb’s Food Department for more than 2 years first approached us with grievances concerning company’s changing work environment, and when we reached out for more sources to confirm the story, many were all too happy to share.
“The original working culture at Airbnb was ‘be a host to each other‘, but that’s not how it is anymore”. Claims a source inside Airbnb, who insisted on remaining anonymous. “It’s become a toxic work environment where management bullies the staff, I know several people who have left and several people threatening to leave.”
When we pressed for specifics: “Many complaints have been filed to HR against management, because of ‘bullying tactics’, and passive aggressive management. At one point people were even afraid to file for overtime even if we were working longer hours, because management was so hostile.”
Another Airbnb employee’s email complaint about management was leaked to us, it voices concerns about a hostile work environment and suspicions of a management strategy to force full time employees out. Screenshots of the actual emails have been removed as requested by their original source for fear of retribution:
“This is a company of belonging and inclusion, everything our new management has done thus far personnel wise has been the opposite of that”
“There is a concern that upper management is not inclined to help tenured employees succeed, and rather is doing everything they can to make certain people look bad and make them become frustrated”
“there is a business need to eliminate full time employees…and move towards all contracted employees”
Several Airbnb Food Department employees felt there was a corporate strategy to push out full time employees (FTE’s) so that they might be replaced with cheaper contractors.
A third Airbnb employee sent us his feelings on the department: “(I) saw a lot of my friends treated like dirt, manipulated and exploited for their hard work, while being completely ignored as contributing members to the team.”
We looked at Glassdoor employee reviews to see if these trends existed in other departments. The reviews on Glassdoor are anonymous, so should be taken with a grain of salt, but there is a clear trend of long term employees speaking out against new management in several departments. Many reviews complaining about ‘inexperienced’ or ‘uncaring management’, as well as a corporate structure that does not allow for upward mobility. These trends may come at no surprise given their business model of relying on cheaper, part-time contractors as way of cutting costs and company responsibility.
There were also many positive reviews from employees, and feel free to read them yourself at glassdoor.com. Below, we’ve concentrated on reviews that brought up concerns with management, company culture, and growing pains in May of 2017, of which there were many, in several departments:
“Honestly everyone seems miserable and like they’re phoning it in. It’s such a far cry from the magical office I joined three years ago.” – Airbnb Employee
“People are treated like cattle”
Airbnb’s growth in the last 4 years has been astronomical. In March 2017, Airbnb continued to raise money and was valued at 31 billion dollars. This growth has not come without pains. Airbnb owes much of its success to the ‘sharing economy’, a model that allows corporations to pass off costs of doing business to their own work force. Like Uber or Taskrabbit, these companies avoid paying taxes or benefits to their workers by mostly supporting part-time positions. At the same time they find ways to duck governmental regulations and taxes, thereby gaining a huge advantage on traditional competitors. As a result labor unions and local city governments have been fighting Airbnb’s aggressive expansion for years, and in several countries.
The silicon valley term for these types of companies is ‘disruptors’. In the industries they are changing, and to the cities they are manipulating, these companies are sometimes called far worse. In San Francisco for example the chief concern was that +8,000 unregulated Airbnb ‘hotels’ were taking away much needed housing stock during a historical housing shortage. City Residents fought to regulate Airbnb’s ‘temporary’ hotels, so that they could make sure Airbnb would pay their fair share of taxes. But Airbnb spent over $8 million in a smear campaign full of obvious untruths and scare tactics to defeat regulation.
This year, under judicial pressure, Airbnb has agreed to register its hosts who rent homes and rooms to tourists. This is an important step in a city where housing costs have skyrocketed as more and more homes are taken off the market to be used as unregulated hotel rooms.
Now that Airbnb is worth 31 billion dollars, maybe it’s time they think about treating their employees and the cities who host them with a little more respect. As the first Airbnb employee who interviewed put it:
“It’s a company about belonging anywhere, but how can we belong if we feel like they are trying to push us out”. – Current Full-Time Airbnb Employee.