NASA, FAA Make Moves to Offer Some Staff App-Based Personalized, Professional Coaching 


The agencies are set to tap into BetterUp’s mobile platform, which uses AI algorithms to match employees with the right coaches for their needs.

Certain senior employees at NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration are set to soon tap into an artificial intelligence-boosted, mobile-based professional coaching platform intended to help reduce stress and raise productivity. 

The federal agencies have linked up with California-based business BetterUp to provide new self-improvement resources to their workforce at scale. 

“This is the first time BetterUp has contracted with the government to execute one of our standard coaching programs,” the company’s CEO and Co-Founder Alexi Robichaux told Nextgov Friday. “We anticipate both NASA and FAA to launch their BetterUp coaching programs before the end of the year.”

Formed in 2013, the digital coaching resource combines AI and behavioral science to provide users with personalized support, and it’s currently being tapped by tens of thousands of people across the planet, including many from Fortune 500 companies. 

Robichaux offered a look into the tool itself and the technology that underpins it. 

“BetterUp’s platform and content will be the same for both NASA and the FAA,” he explained. “During the program design for both [agencies], our behavioral science team mapped BetterUp’s evidence-based Whole Person Model to the federal government’s Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) as prescribed by [the Office of Personnel and Management].” 

At the start of their growth-pushing journeys with the platform, executives and supervisors participating within the agencies will take BetterUp’s unique Whole Person Assessment, which Robichaux said is meant to help “discover their individual strengths”—and that information is then fused with an AI algorithm that will match the employees with the right certified coaches for their needs. The technology takes into account more than 150 factors, including those OPM-steered ECQs, as well as strengths, learning styles, and goals to ensure the right matches are made.

“We constantly monitor the performance of our AI algorithms to track their efficacy, which currently has a first-time pairing accuracy rate in excess of 97%,” Robichaux said.

AI is also harnessed to help hyper-personalize each person’s learning experience. 

Once connected with their new coaches, agency personnel will collaboratively produce individualized coaching strategies based upon their traits—and the agencies’ larger goals for the program. On top of one-on-one coaching, users also are able to access speciality insights on topics such as navigating uncertainty, sleep, communication, nutrition and working while parenting. Goal-setting tools and an extensive library of micro-learning development resources are also included.

“The BetterUp platform manages the end-to-end experience, from coach matching to scheduling to engagement and analytics,” Robichaux said. “This largely eliminates the administrative burden and operational costs that prevent organizations from making coaching more widely available.”

And the overall program’s administrators within NASA and FAA will trace program participation, engagement, satisfaction, and completion directly in the app in real-time through BetterUp’s People Analytics Dashboard. The dashboard is expected to provide the agencies with what Robichaux called “deep behavioral insights and custom reporting aligned with talent strategy in real-time.”

He explained that BetterUp’s evidence-based data model maps changes in behavior and mindsets to business outcomes and correlates heaps of science-backed psychological, behavioral, and organizational factors that can be tailored across multiple areas, including program design, coach cohorts, assessments, micro-learning and content, analytics and reporting, and specialist verticals. 

“This enables companies to monitor, track, and measure learnings and behavior changes tied to business outcomes,” he said.

When it comes to customization, Robichaux added that it’s all ongoing, and ultimately crucial that behavioral gains—achieved through the coaching provided—are measured and reported in terminology and competencies that are familiar to federal agencies. 

“Our goal for our work in the government sector is the same as what we seek with every organization we work with: for these organizations to see measurable growth in the mindsets, skills, and behaviors required for modern leadership,” he said.

FAA’s Vice President for Technical Operations Jeff Planty said in a statement Thursday that the agency is “extremely excited to be partnering with BetterUp to explore a new approach to coaching that will not only unleash the full potential of our individual leaders, but that of the entire organization.”