How Toyota is supercharging its talent acquisition


Carolyn Bundey, Toyota’s Senior Manager, Strategic Projects, The Academy and Consumer One explains how Toyota is changing processes and casting its net wider to bring in the best talent possible

How does Toyota make sure its staff have the skills to succeed in their career?

We deliver transformational change projects to our retailers. Some of it is through training. Some of it is through process improvement, and then we do things like roadshows and workshops and one-to-one support for some of our retailers as well.

We have two academy sites and recently we've been looking at more flexible options around training because we've recognised we're trying to attract talent that needs more flexibility. It's not always possible for them to travel to some of our main training hubs, so we're looking at options for the retailers where we train people where they are during working hours, allowing for things like the school run or if they have commitments outside of work.

That working really well. It's just one of a number of initiatives that we're looking at around the way we train and develop people in our retailer network.

How is Toyota changing its approach to talent acquisition so you bring in the vest best people to the business?

We've launched a really large programme called Best Retailer in Town. We call it BRIT for short. It's as much about the customer as it is about our internal people because we know that it's intrinsically linked in terms of our business performance.

If we don't look after our people, they won't look after the customer. It's just so powerful when we have an engaged workforce and it's at the heart of our retailer network strategy.

As part of BRIT, we've created a subset programme called Best Employer in Town. It’s all about having robust people strategies in place and making sure that we have consistency across our retailer network, so we're all pulling in the same direction towards that ultimate goal of being the mobility company.

There has been a big change in mindset about the type of talent that we bring into our industry, where the best person for the role might be someone who doesn't have automotive experience at all. What we want to do is recruit for the right mindset and skills and capability. Then we can train as we go and ensure that they're given the learning and development to support their journey into the company. We're actually partnering with a couple of different companies to support with that and using some different approaches.

One of them is to work on apprenticeships. We have a big push towards wanting apprentices so that we can grow our own talent. It's a fantastic way of them getting their qualification while also working at the same time.

We partner with Babington and Learning Curve Group. Then in Northern Ireland, we've just recently launched with Rutledge. We work with OVQ for our technical apprenticeships and TTS in Ireland. We're really driving modern retail apprenticeships because we're encouraging the fact that working in our sector isn't just about being in a workshop or working in sales.

There's all these exciting roles that people can take on, like a digital marketer or data roles or front-of-house customer service roles. There's really great apprenticeships that support people's learning in those roles as well.

How important is it to get feedback from across Toyota’s workforce in order to make real, discernible changes?

It's ingrained in every single one of us from the moment that we join that we should be able to raise our hands at any point in time and say something's not right.

We have this terminology from the manufacturing operation where on a factory line, there's something called the Andon cord, and anybody on that factory line should be able to pull the cord and say, “There's an issue with the quality of something.” We say the same to our people who work in the non-factory roles. That anybody at any point in time should be able to raise their hand and say, “I have this piece of feedback,” and it's not seen in any way negative. It's actively encouraged and it's baked into working practices as well.

In our more modern retailer environment we've ensured that there is a space where people can meet and workshop things together to be able to put up what's working, what's not, and what do we need to do to adapt and change as a result.

Why is it crucial for Toyota – and the wider industry – to embrace diversity?

It's been proven that having a more diverse workforce leads to strong performance. It would be disappointing if people didn't want to change and grow and move with the world that we are now living and working in and our changing customer demands.