HR Best Practices: NASA Launches Workforce Realignment
In 2010 the space shuttle program will be discontinued and thousands of NASA engineers and scientists will be affected. The Constellation program, which will succeed the space shuttle program, will not launch for five years. If the skilled shuttle staffers decide to retire rather than wait for the replacement program, NASA will face a serious knowledge gap. Also, a government panel is studying manned spaceflight programs to determine if the shuttle should truly be taken out of service. All of the uncertainty creates a major challenge of keeping employees engaged and committed. HR staff is working with managers to map skills for the next program and comparing them to the skills of the current workers. They have found that systems engineering and project management skills are lacking and they are developing training to fill the skill shortage. In addition to the tangible transition issues, there are intangible issues such as dealing with fear of the unknown, breaking up teams, and grief for the and o a program that many employees have worked on their entire career.

Questions for Discussion:
1. Why do you think project management skills are lacking in current workers at NASA?
2. As a HR manager, how would you deal with the intangible issues that are mentioned?
3. How could you measure employee morale and optimism over the next five years to make sure that current levels are being maintained?