Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Poor HR = Bad PR 

This is an interesting example of what poor Human Resources planning can do to an organization's PR.  The culprit is NASA and the situation arises from exploratory missions to Mars.   The Mars sol, or day, is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than the earth day.  Here on earth, NASA did not plan for that when it assigned crews to control the rovers on the Red Planet's surface.  So what happened is that within two days of work, controllers were working within another time zone.  Within four days, two time zones away from the earth clock.  Crews became exhausted because they were out of rhythm with earth's sleep cycles.  NASA basically told them to "gut it out."  They couldn't.  Circadian rhythms can be ignored for only so long.  NASA, for a time, made no concessions to rover crews and earned a bad reputation as a result.  It is understood now that when working on another planet, whether from earth or on that planet, one must adjust to the planet's time.  One can't operate out of brute force.  Humans need sleep on a schedule.  If that cycle is Mars' time, so be it, and HR policies should adjust. 


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