Can Space Turn Around the Great Resignation?

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You may have had a recent experience with one of the most serious problems facing our economy. Whether it’s the drive-thru at your favorite coffee shop slogging along at a snail’s pace, seemingly endless hold times when calling customer service, or even the inability to fill highly skilled jobs in your own workplace, America has a big problem with people exiting their jobs. Sierra Space believes that a lack of engagement is a key contributor to the problems plaguing our economy. When people aren’t dreaming about the future, they aren’t so interested in working in the present. Working in space (in what we term the Orbital Age®) will play an important role in turning things around, but first we need to understand the problem.

Our challenge is known as the Great Resignation. Here are some stunning statistics. At least 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in February 2022, and that month was no aberration. In January, 4.3 million resigned, and a record 4.5 million dropped out in November 2021. This phenomenon began during the COVID-19 pandemic, as workers began rethinking their goals and career aspirations, but it taps into disaffected feelings long held by workers. Office Space, anyone? 

A related global survey performed by software company Adobe and reported on by U.S. News & World Report reveals the Great Resignation is primarily driven by members of Generation Z as well as the slightly older Millennials. (Fully 59% of these younger workers report feeling dissatisfied with their jobs, a sure sign they are likely to join the huge wave of resignations hitting the economy.) 

Although young workers are driving the Great Resignation, they aren’t the only ones leaving positions. Harvard Business Review reports that employees between 30 and 45 had the greatest increase in dropout rates since 2020. Resignations by workers in this age range increased an astonishing 20% between 2020 and 2021. Based on these startling figures, companies aren’t only losing their young workers, but also their mid-level staff. 

All of this adds up to major worries for America’s business leaders. To this point, Fortune teamed up with Deloitte to survey CEOs on what they believe to be the major challenges to their businesses in the near future. Unsurprisingly, the Great Resignation weighs heavily on all their minds

According to the survey:

  • 73% of CEOs say a shortage in labor and skills is the most likely problem that will disrupt their business in the next 12 months.
  • 57% say that recruiting new talent is their biggest issue. 
  • 51% report retaining talent is almost as significant.
  • 35% acknowledge expanding benefits and compensation to improve their ability to retain workers.

That last point is particularly interesting. Business leaders seem to believe mere compensation and benefits are the way out of the Great Resignation. But wage growth is the highest it has been since 2001, and the resignations are still occurring at a dizzying pace. 

As Gallup reports, the real key to the Great Resignation is employee engagement. Or disengagement as it were. Globally, only 20% of employees are actively engrossed by their jobs. For those young people leading the Great Resignation, this means they have little connection to any greater purpose, no rousing mission to make them look forward to going to the office each day. 

Unfortunately for corporate America, no amount of money can produce that incomparable feeling, the sense your life has meaning and that you are making a difference in the world. Although many companies struggle to produce such engagement, Sierra Space is leading the way in providing real solutions to the Great Resignation. The answer, like so many of Earth’s questions, lies in low Earth orbit (and beyond).

Generation Z, Millennials, and even older Americans disillusioned by their experience in the workforce need greater vistas than launching the next popular iPhone app. They require the dream of space, which led prior generations to achieve what was thought to be impossible with NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon. 

Why? Because despite what some pundits argue, the Great Resignation is not occurring because young people are lazy or unwilling to put in the long hours some companies require. It’s because they are not inspired to do so. To date, Sierra Space has not commissioned a study by Ivy League professors to determine how big a role the dream of space can play in inspiring a workforce. It’s obvious daily as our people show up thrilled to contribute.

And the enthusiasm extends beyond our existing team. After Sierra Space announced a recruitment drive in February with the goal of roughly doubling the number of employees working for us in 2022, the goal was hit in October with several months left to spare. Also, we received more than 7,000 applications for 60 internship roles, demonstrating that Americans are eager to work when they know they are contributing to a better tomorrow for everyone.

As Senior Director of Operations Klint Combs explains, “I feel extremely fortunate to work here. I tell my crew all the time, there are 7.9 billion people on this planet. How many get to spend their days building spaceplanes?” Principal Systems Engineer Justin Corneau expands on what effect building the future of living and working in space has had on our workforce: “I don’t think I’ve ever been on teams before where we get this much done. Every day we create things that people are going to be in awe of, products that are going to change the history of humanity.” 

With stirring statements like these, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Great Resignation has skipped over the engaged team at Sierra Space. Companies desperate to achieve such an engaged workforce—willing to put everything they have into their work would do well to turn their eyes to space. Or at least summon the excitement such exploration promises.   

Whether it’s joining Sierra Space’s mission to take the next great leap for humanity in space or creating programs for employees to soon live and work off-world, looking beyond Earth bodes well for the economy’s future. If you’re someone who wishes their employer could inspire you to love coming to work the way Sierra Space does, consider a career or internship with us today.

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