HomeTalentHR Distinction Spotlight: How Warburtons transformed their talent strategy

HR Distinction Spotlight: How Warburtons transformed their talent strategy

  • 4 Min Read

In this weeks HR Distinction Spotlight, we take a look at how Warburtons turned talent turmoil upside down, to create a remarkable new talent acquisition strategy for their business.

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Many organisations strive to go through a transformational journey and guarantee global success. To overcome these challenges, businesses must undertake numerous changes over many years. This can heavily impact culture, talent, and strategic focus.

Through these monumental changes, HR plays a key role in maintaining and aligning a consistent experience for their workforce in times of uncertainty. This week, we look at Warburtons talent attraction journey. The organisation set out to reshape their hiring and onboarding systems.

Warburtonss mission is to be Britain’s best food business. The key to achieving this is to deliver high-quality fresh-baked products to over 1900 retail stores across the UK. However, in 2016, Warburtons found itself impacted by a national shortage of 60,000 drivers in a labour marketplace where driving jobs were among the top 5 most difficult-to-fill roles.

There was also a lack of diversity in the company, 55% of its drivers were over 45, fewer than 2% were under 25, and less than 1% were women. What’s more, although the company had a presence on 23 sites, the time-to-hire took 80 days. What’s more, 60% of newly recruited employees were leaving within less than six months.

To keep deliveries moving, Warburtons had to rely on expensive agency drivers. They lacked the company ethos and didn’t always understand delivery routes. Consequently, the organisation came under severe pressure.

To counter this, Warburtons responded with an imaginative vision to develop a robust, diverse, and future-proof driver population. Warburtons completely overhauled its approach to talent attraction. Having looked at the industry’s best practices, they adopted methods implemented by large distribution companies.

“We created Driver Academy, which embodies a strategy for ‘end-to-end’ driver resourcing – to attract, engage and develop new drivers, as well as help existing employees,” said Jane Mitchell, Head of Resourcing and Talent, Warburtons.

“For the first time, we treated the attraction of drivers as a specialist in its own right, with a central function now looking after all sourcing, candidate management and pre-screening.”

Warburtons worked hard to gain a deeper understanding of the problems in the truck driver market. The organisation then used its knowledge to create new tactics.

With the assistance of Driver Academy, they could:

  • Set expectations correctly by launching a careers website dedicated to drivers that told their ‘a day in the life’ stories.
  • Increase candidate numbers by targeting experienced drivers and those that they could develop.
  • Reduce time-to-hire and increase professionalism by delivering an ultra-streamlined application process. Candidates would be reviewed and contacted within 24 hours.
  • Make new employees feel welcome and engaged. Once appointed, drivers would receive a full company induction.

“With the implementation of Driver Academy, potential candidates can instantly see they are dealing with a professional organisation that communicates clearly and swiftly, treats them with respect and supports them in a truck driving career,” continued Jane.


Warburtons set to transform the way they attract talent:

  • The company developed 12-month workforce plans at each depot to plan for retirements, manage peak periods and assess the local external market more proactively.
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites were prioritised to spot business intelligence and market changes.
  • Job adverts were completely rewritten. The new versions aimed to target younger male and female drivers, encouraging a more diverse workforce.
  • Warburtons aimed to change perceptions about truck drivers, showcasing that the career doesn’t entail zero-hour contracts and dead career paths.
  • Social media campaigns were used to engage younger audiences and direct the next generation of talent towards their career sites.

Since taking on its talent reinvention in 2017, Warburtons experienced remarkable results.

100% of driving vacancies were filled, enabling 336 new hires and creating a talent pool of 44 candidates. Subsequently, 55% of candidates in the talent pool have been offered jobs.

Time-to-hire drastically reduced from an average of 80 to 19 days. Warburtons also managed to increase its female driver population to 6%. Additionally, 17% of hires were under 30, and almost 10% comprise newly qualified drivers.

“Warburtons found ways to tell the day-to-day stories of its drivers online, attract younger male and female candidates, engage better across multiple channels and accelerate the recruitment process,” continued Jane.

Today, potential candidates can instantly see they are dealing with a professional organisation that communicates clearly and swiftly, treats them with respect and supports them in a truck driving career that could take them into senior roles.

Warburtons showcased that if talent attraction is prioritised through time and resources, there’s a high possibility of bouncing back from difficult business periods.

Warburtons transformed the way it attracts talent for truck driver roles – avoiding a national skills shortage that could threaten its mission to be Britain’s best food business. As time goes on, they will continue to see success in talent management. Warburtons hope to see continued improvement in diversifying its workforce.

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