4 Things the Indianapolis 500 Taught Me About HR

Before I get started, I may be the only person to ever write that title. I’m not even going to Google it because I want to think that I am. Ok, now on to the regularly scheduled program. I spent the past weekend at the Indianapolis 500 and I learned a lot about Human Resources as it relates to this event. I have mentioned before that I find it very hard to turn off the HR brain. It’s such a blessing, right? Enough of the distractions. Man, a long weekend can make the brain go everywhere. Here are the things the Indy 500 taught me about HR and the workplace

Great Teams and Great Technology Attract Great Talent

What sets the good employers apart from the great ones? Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Jim Collins here. Great talent wants to work with the latest and greatest technology and tools for a chance to compete and win. World-renowned Formula One champion Fernando Alonso was looking for an opportunity to compete in the Indy 500. While he has a current ride in the F1 series, his team is not competitive and he realized he had virtually no shot to win the Monaco Grand Prix. But he was not going to get into any car just to turn laps at Indy.

Andretti Autosports, Honda, and McLaren put together a unique package to entice Fernando to the historic event. And Fernando didn’t disappoint for most of the race, leading 27 laps before losing an engine. He ended up with “Rookie of the Year” honors.

Employees are no different. While many are enamored with the big names like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, the most important reason they join a company is for the type of work they will be doing. Will they be working on cutting edge projects or using the most innovative technologies? These are main factors in an employment decision.

It’s Not All About the Millennials

Don’t forget about GenX. 4 of the top 6 finishers were over 40, including the winner. While there is an exciting and promising crop of young drivers to make a strong field for years to come, experience still matters at Indy. With the drivers doing everything they can to take care of their body and mind, they are able to drive longer at a high level. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not kind to many drivers and 500 miles requires patience. There is no time to rush the process at this place.

It’s All About the Millennials

Rounding out the top six finishers were a 22 year old and a 26 year old. A core of the talent in the IndyCar series wreaks of the Gen Y group and there is so much to love. Last year’s winner, Alexander Rossi, is only 25 and was running up front for a chance to win it again this year.

Even the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is doing a superb job to cater to all generations for the fan experience. For the second year in a row, the “Snake Pit” has put on an EDM concert during the race that has drawn the younger crowd. I’m told it’s awesome and I’ll take their word for it.

Workplaces are trying all they can to attract the Millennial group while still maintaining a culture for the aging workforce. Take a look at what IMS is doing.

Inclusion and Diversity

This year’s field feature drivers from 16 different countries. While there is more work to in certain demographics and gender, there are programs in place to attract diverse talent, from engineers to drivers. Pippa Mann, the only female qualifier, finished 17th. She started 28th and finished ahead of the likes of Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Fernando Alonso. This year’s winner, Takuma Sato, became the first winner from Japan.

So, I stand corrected. It looks like you can take about any event and compare it to HR and leadership if you look hard enough. Each person will be able to relate to experiences that are close to them. I just happen to enjoy sports, and specifically auto racing, so I’m paying attention to it more closely. Many people may see 33 cars turning left 800 times and find it boring. But look closer and you’ll see the stories within the story.

Finally, I’ll leave you my Instagram story that I captured for the day. Enjoy!


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