Leveraging People Analytics to Connect Opportunity Youth to Employment

Jordan Ingersoll
April 28, 2020

This article is a summary of the below video featuring pymetrics' Head of Behavioral Science in IO, Dr. Lori Foster.

What do you get when you cross artificial intelligence, industrial and organizational (IO) psychology, underprivileged youth, and open jobs? Dr. Lori Foster, Head of Behavioral Science at pymetrics and Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University, shared her exciting work applying behavioral sciences to organizations and sustainable development. The United Nations’ has 17 distinct Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, including objectives towards poverty reduction, gender equality, climate action, access to education and work, most -- if not all -- of which impact today’s youth. 

The United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030

The SDG of greatest concern and interest to Lori is reducing the percentage of youth not in school, employed, or in training, as this can be both financially and psychologically straining in the short and long term. Lori has set out to leverage IO psychology and AI to enable disadvantaged youth to obtain professional opportunities despite their historical lack of access to educational and economic resources. In order to do this, she calls out four key elements:

1. Funding: The Rockefeller Foundation helped fund this initiative, as they are particularly interested in impact hiring to further economic and social development. The organization was built around advancing frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility.

2. Open Jobs: Hyatt Hotels Corporation, an American multinational hospitality company, opened up a number of housekeeping, bell-desk attendant, culinary, etc, entry level roles to these opportunity youth.

3. Youth: By definition, “opportunity youth” are disadvantaged and disconnected, so it was a challenge to identify them in the first place. Fortunately, Hyatt had already launched a well-established program called “Rise Hy”, which leverages partnerships with community-based organizations to identify youth interested in applying to different Hyatt roles. 

4. The Connection Mechanism: Operationalizing this part of the project was the most exciting to Lori. It involved connecting opportunity youth to relevant job openings, and providing a comforting application process that ultimately led them to jobs they were likely to succeed in. Instead of using a traditional resume drop or self-reported questionnaire, the project team used pymetrics, which has a strong IO psychology contingent and leverages behavioral science and artificial intelligence to connect talent with opportunity -- voila! This entailed having opportunity youth play through the pymetrics games, analyzing their gameplay at a very detailed, sub-second level of analysis, and ultimately uncovering the unique attributes they possess like altruism, risk taking, memory, etc. 

Top performers already in-role at Hyatt first played through the games for pymetrics to establish a success profile, and enable their matching engine to recommend youth to specific Hyatt roles to their best-fit jobs. More than a third of the youth that were extended this opportunity took full advantage of it, and 97% of them matched to at least one of the five open roles at Hyatt, resulting in youth getting jobs throughout multiple properties across the globe! 

Hyatt remains very committed to hiring more opportunity youth in the coming months, and we’re so excited to watch this partnership grow and enable more and more high-potential youth to find their place in the world of work! 

If you’re involved in an initiative that helps connect underserved populations with jobs, we'd love to connect with you. Drop us a note at info@pymetrics.com and we can set up some time to discuss further. 

A special thank you to Dr. Lori Foster, Andrew Avrin, and Jill Stover for making this project a reality!