How to Attract the Best Young Talent to Your Organisation


In this podcast, Dan Sullivan & I discuss the factors affecting how companies can Attract & Keep the Best Young Talent.

Generation Z & Millennials are currently the two youngest cohorts in the workplace, but on both sides getting the right job, hiring the right talent, on-boarding in the right way, and loyalty are all hurdles for companies to get over.

In this short 26 mins podcast, we’ll share some practical suggestions.

Dan Sullivan is Founder @ Gen Z Talks | Supporting Young People in Work and Education

A full transcript follows:

Henry Rose Lee  0:04

Good afternoon and welcome to the occasional podcast about intergenerational diversity and inclusion, today I have with me somebody I’m very excited to meet Dan Sullivan, who is founder Gen Z talks, and he’s going to be expressing some ideas around generation Zed. And so that’s what we want to hear about So Dan before we get started, I’m fascinated to know how you got from law into gender talks and what you’re doing now, what happened.


Dan Sullivan  0:32

Sure. Well, first of all, thanks for having me on here I’ve been really excited about our chat for a while, and love the work you’re doing. So yeah, just to start off my, my journey so I was working in the legal sector for around 10 years and had had a great time, you know, met some great people, was very enjoyable but it got to that point where I wanted to do something which I was really passionate about. And I kind of that led me to the kind of travelling and teaching to things I’ve been having a desire to do for a long time and the reason teaching kind of appealed to me because I love working with younger people and passing on knowledge or connecting younger people to the older generation so actually in the legal sector set up the London legal network. And one of the purposes of that is to give more inclusivity to the younger workers in the in the legal sector with the older workers so you had that trainees meeting judges at this event, and I kind of wanted to carry that forward. You know in the kind of younger generations generally in the business space. And that kind of before that I kind of got into teaching because I was passionate for, for helping young people so I taught in Vietnam. I taught at universities at schools and I loved it. And I still carried on in France, where I’m currently located, and in France when I was in Bordeaux I set up a student network called the border student network, because either. I was really passionate again merging the generations, because I really feel that you know together will be better. And I feel that the younger generation which will speak about so much to give now because of the value and the access to internet which is really kind of speeding up the progress of this younger generation. So I’ve got professionals from various businesses in Bordeaux and students from the Bordeaux business schools nearby is really good. Unfortunately pandemic started in February March March time. And that really I could see that generations Ed and the young people have been speaking to in Vietnam in France. You know who has so much potential that they could really have their futures impacted education wise job wise, access to opportunities that really sparked me to kind of go that step further and to create this platform to make, you know, to give this generation of voice, first of all, so that the older generation can see, this isn’t just any younger generation, and this is what the generation are doing and saying, and then mindset. So I want to teach the older generation about Gen Z by giving them the voice, and I want to increase in inclusivity so increase access to skills to knowledge to experiences to all backgrounds and to actually to is a global platform, you know, at the moment. So focus so I wanted to get different ideas from different countries which are going to really impact the younger generation and the older, because creativity and innovation which Gen Z are bringing, and really needs to be tapped into by the older generation and yeah so I launched Gen Z talks. I started working on that during the summer and I launched in September. And yeah, yeah, I’ve been speaking to various leaders around the world.


Henry Rose Lee  4:09

I think what’s really amazing is that that picture that you painted of a trainee working with a judge, so a much much younger less experienced individual almost getting a chance to be mentored and reverse mentoring, somebody who is a, by definition, older and more experienced individually as a judge I think that’s brilliant and I love the idea of what you’re doing. And before we started today I was saying that I think we’re probably in the same arena, but perhaps coming at it from different angles so I’ve got a few questions to you to you, which are really around generation Zed and perhaps the listener understanding more around generation Zed so could you tell me what key characteristics Do you believe that generation Zed workers are really going to feature today.


Dan Sullivan  4:51

I think, because this is, this is the first digital native generation. I think that kind of impacts, you know their characteristics and how they work and a skill set in terms of even like communication and a way to communicate. Being tech savvy. Being creative having access to the internet so you, you’ve got a younger generation has more knowledge than previous younger generations at this stage, because of growing up with the internet or their life so think in terms of the characteristics, you’re going to see creative tech savvy and very mission driven in terms of you know what their values are. And you got generation who really genuinely wants to make an impact


Henry Rose Lee  5:38

to make sense to the planet things like climate change things like world peace, things like a better way of behaving and living those sorts of things.


Dan Sullivan  5:47

Yeah, I think if certainly those things and to have a more kind of in a business sustainability and to do business the right way to, you know, to when companies are selling products and doing business to make sure that it’s making an impact and this is something which is really valuable to Gen Z is that companies are bigger than the product itself what they’re doing is you know purposeful and he’s going to make an impact and it’s not just about making money. So this is something that Jen said, Jen said worker really believes in. And, yeah, and also you know they’re obviously gendered are obviously very, you know, natural social media. So they’ve grown up with it. Yeah, exactly and this is going to be so important for marketing for the new way of doing things as companies go more remote who want to save costs on office space, you know they’re going to have to, you know, less people are going to be willing to travel for considerable amount of time. Some will straight away but you’re gonna have to communicate social media, and you know the the old relationships you know even when I started my career of meeting up in various places and various clubs, you know membership clubs you know these are. This is a dying thing now. Yeah, you know, still important face to face but it’s not how marketing is not the direction marketing is going.


Henry Rose Lee  7:15

I can see that. Yes. And if we’re talking about generation Zed being the future of work, because they’re the youngest generation in the workplace today and they are tech savvy and they have access to more information than older generations have ever had previously. What value do you think they’re going to bring to the future of work.


Dan Sullivan  7:35

I think, you know, certainly. From the start, you’re getting a new fresh perspective. And you’re getting a fresh perspective at a time when a fresh perspective is needed more than ever. So you’ve got for me you’ve got the same jigsaw puzzle, or wherever you want to call it where you’ve got the pandemic has happened. At a time when probably change in the workplace. You know was needed. And you’ve got Gen Z, who are getting reduced opportunities for jobs, but can bring so much, and then you’ve got the older generation who, who are you know the pandemic sped up new changes, which the older experienced workers who brings so much value themselves are going to struggle with the change, but they’ve kind of been kept apart, and they’ve both got different skills and perspectives and mindset. So I really believe that Gen Z can bring a new fresh perspective, right now, and a helping hand for technological things in the workplace for social media marketing. You know, and also, you know, in terms of recruitment as well. In advice when it comes to the recruitment side of things. So I think


Henry Rose Lee  8:54

that’s an interesting point I’d like to pick up the recruitment side of things is vital because if we want to encourage this young fresh, new blood to come into organisations and deliver that value, what’s the best way to attract and recruit them, in your opinion, what’s the best way to do that.


Dan Sullivan  9:11

I think you have to be clear on your website I just had a really great conversation with a big Gen Z ad leader in the UK actually just just literally now, and we had a really interesting conversation about this. And she said, she went on various company websites, who just went Gen Z ad friendly and Jalen said they’re going to check out your company like they check out products when I shop, you need to make sure that your online presence is showing in line with gensan, and to be in line with Gen Z, you have to be mission driven. And, you know, to kind of have a purpose, like I said before, where it’s more than just your product. So I think making sure your website represents a Gen Z friendly. You know content. I think in terms of attracting. I think you should, you know, on YouTube and platforms like that. You should show a day in the life that your company. And you should get young workers not older workers to show what it’s like to work in a company, how your skills how your beliefs, how you know that those kind of things are in line with the company, and I think YouTube. I know it’s been used by various companies now. And actually, Goldman Sachs, use Snapchat, to kind of they did this kind of series and Snapchat, where they kind of showed you know what it was like for different employees and I think they saw an increase in like 80% of people in their careers page as results I think utilising the social media channels to attract Gen Zed and getting Gen Zed at your company to, to kind of lead that and another thing quickly as well, is that the referral programmes programmes system in place if you’re offering good incentives for young workers to be rewarded for referring their friends if some of the best talent, you know they’re going to know, talented people their age, use people in your company to bring other people but make sure you you know use incentives, you know, to really make them actively look as well, because you know they’re always going to try and help, but I think an incentive programme that referral programme, could be really beneficial and company’s attracting the best talent.


Henry Rose Lee  11:41

That sounds wonderful okay so we we’ve attracted and recruited this talent, how do we engage and retain generation said in the best possible way for them, and also for the organisations we want them to remain in.


Dan Sullivan  11:53

Yeah, I think, best way to engage, I think communication is so important. And you’ll be surprised that actually Jen said prefer face to face communication. And, you know, there’s a bit of a difference when it comes to remote working but you’ll be surprised at the majority like the office working and say the face to face communication is really important. And I think to retain Gen Z, I think, first of all you need a good onboarding programme. So you need to give them the most inclusive start. You know, you need to something that I saw one company do, is they, they had like a mentor for week shadow. The employee and this meant so much to the employee, and they felt, you know really at ease, I think, doing that inclusivity reverse mentoring programmes. You know where you’re feeling included, you’re having a big role to, you know, almost consult the older employees. You know your older colleagues, and at the same time you’re getting you’re building that relationship and you’re getting something back from the older worker. So I think having programmes like this, and making the working environment fun is something I’m really hearing. They really want to work in somewhere fun I don’t mean running around not doing work. You know, I mean, so, having an environment which achieves the goals, which makes a difference which isn’t just about making money for the company. And another thing which is really important, and the younger of her just spoke to just now he said the most most important is the opportunity to develop to evolve to learn with the company, if there’s no programme for a young person to develop themselves, they’re going to leave because they want to develop this is a generation really big on personal development.


Henry Rose Lee  14:01

Yeah, I’ve read that and talk to my own clients who’ve said that learning and development training to a generation Zed is almost like currency itself of course they’re very interested in money we all our money still makes the world go around at the moment, however that sense of having additional tools in their toolkit, additional things that they can do is very positive for them and that that presumably is is what you’re talking about.


Dan Sullivan  14:26

Yeah, no, definitely. They want to be able to, to develop, and I think if you offer training programmes, you’re going to see, you know, young workers stay with you for much longer. And another thing as well as probably be going back to the attracting and Gen Z had flexible, flexible working is also very important, which I didn’t mention, so having in a flexible working in the contract to attract them or even going further to retain them. It will be very important from the insights I’m getting,


Henry Rose Lee  15:01

that’s a really important insight I think because post COVID. I wonder if that flexible working is going to become more of the norm. What do you think,


Dan Sullivan  15:11

yeah I think so, I think. I think that there’s flexible working there has to be, I think, employers have seen the advantages of flexible working. And actually, mental health is so important and to have this kind of break, and as long as the work gets done. You know there has to be that trust between the employee employer, and as long as there’s that trust there, and there’s that deliver and, you know, you deliver the work, then I think, you know, why not you know you need to look after your, your employees and you need to, you know, a happy working environment means happy customers. You know, so it’s not just a working environment it’s the people that is your market centre as well.


Henry Rose Lee  15:57

Absolutely. I’m going to come back to the element that you mentioned earlier where you said generations I’d really like face to face things Contrary to popular belief, I’m going to pop that for a moment, but I just want to ask you about something that a lot of employers worry about where they think the youngest generations in the workforce today are the least loyal relate that to generations Ed and tell me what you think.


Dan Sullivan  16:22

I think, you know, a part of that. You know, I think you can look at it both ways actually because there’s insights I’m getting that generation Zed have seen, you know, older uncles or brothers or parents who suffered from the recession in 2008 so actually generations that are looking for stability. Actually, but it works both ways. You know they’re looking for stability at a company, but you have to make sure you know how well does the company know generations ahead. What is the company doing to make sure that generations are retained. Is it because companies don’t know about this generation like they should do. That’s quite possible.


Henry Rose Lee  17:11

So it might be a lack of understanding,


Dan Sullivan  17:13

I think so. I think a lot of companies, you know, you’ve got companies like Deloitte and E y who are really getting it. you know, and I noticed my cousin actually works at the light she says how well she gets to look after. So there are companies out there who really get generations and the ones who aren’t and who are just reading articles are the ones who are really suffering because they’re not getting and one thing I would advise them to do is have the conversations with generations that don’t don’t talk about them. And when you haven’t actually been speaking to them


Henry Rose Lee  17:54

to talk to them not about them.


Dan Sullivan  17:56

Exactly. That’s a big quote. I’ve seen a few Gen Gen Z does youth. So I do think you know if you provide the inclusivity and the chance to grow. And, you know, the incentives which are in line with what Gen Z to offer you’re going to see them, staying with you for much longer.


Henry Rose Lee  18:16

Yeah. And there’s a kind of counter intuitive challenge to generations that at the moment which is that if we just take the UK. 16 to 24, year olds are the highest percentage of the UK workforce that have been a furloughed and be lost their jobs, it’s roughly 15% of unemployment in the UK. In 2021 is likely to be aged between 16 and 24. And that’s because so many of them are in hospitality and leisure and travel and all of those sectors that were damaged and hit, sometimes terminally hit by COVID. So that means that there have been a lot of generation said in lockdown in various parts in the world. And how have they managed those issues generation said that you know perhaps worrying about going on furlough losing a job altogether trying to get another one and dealing with lockdown how’s it been for them.


Dan Sullivan  19:11

I think the response by Jensen has been nothing short of just inspiring and remarkable. They’ve actually you know the people I’ve been speaking to they’ve been rolling up their sleeves and not and refused to be defeated by the pandemic, and what they’re doing is they’re starting these amazing communities online and collaborating and embracing and LinkedIn. At the age of, you know, as you know 1615 younger, and what they’re doing is they’re progressing and developing and those around them who are suffering, they’re picking them up and saying, I’ll go their way I’ve got your back. Come here there’s this person that can help you. The empathy is a huge, you know, characteristic of of Gen Z, and they’ve been going around helping people who here are struggling and who, you know, to create new opportunities for people they don’t have even know. And this is you know it’s quite magical for me, you know, to see generation doing it and then really embracing in the online learning and development sales and develop themselves with new skills. So I think, you know, this community. This these rise in communities, has been a real kind of his character epitomise or characterise the pandemic for me. And this is going to put him in a really good place in the future.


Henry Rose Lee  20:42

I think also what I’ve seen to add to that is this youngest generation. Volunteering more and picking up jobs that are helping those frontline workers so things like distribution logistics vaccination support driving people around, checking on people taking food to them. I think they’ve been across across all generations there’s been this support but it’s been inspiring to use your word back at you. To see this youngest generation absolutely get involved in that as well perhaps more than other people would have expected them. And I’m presumably that’s also what you’re saying.


Dan Sullivan  21:18

Yeah, I mean, either. A few people have wrongly, you know, labelled Gen Zed, all sorts even the silent generation. And that’s been one big misconception is generation are far from silent and they’re spoken up because they want to change. You know, they want to change the world for the better, and they want to help people around them. And to do that, you’ve got young people coming out of their comfort zones. And, you know, really kind of embracing new relationships. In order to help people even though it’s out of their comfort zone. The why the purpose of them doing that makes them and is driving them out of this comfort zone. And it’s really, really nice to see.


Henry Rose Lee  21:59

It’s wonderful to see and now back to this kind of face to face aspect. Earlier you said that it may be surprising to some people but that generation said, want to do things which are face to face and obviously that seems counterintuitive when you look at the fact that they’re digital natives they’ve grown up with technology they’ve grown up with social media. They’ve lived their teenage years online. So, what makes them want to be so connected face to face,


Dan Sullivan  22:26

I think. Yeah, I think they just realised the beauty the kind of how strong face to face relationships are from their experiences. You know when you know when they’re not online. And I think, you know, the gentleman, the young leaders, or the young Gen said as I’m speaking to. They just kind of the board of pay they realise that the phone’s not good for them that they will do now, all generations are, you know, we’re kind of stuck in our phones and communicating. But when we do have that experience and our phones are down, we are Wow, that’s so great, and the younger generation are no different. Things like they know how great face to face relationships are, but they’re just surrounded by technology that surrounded us in the face phones and various, you know, technological products which are being thrown at them from all kinds of suppliers, say buy this buy that. You know, so when you get all that out of the way they love it. And that’s why they really love working in the office and that kind of feeling of face to face communication


Henry Rose Lee  23:38

that connection that Commedia


Dan Sullivan  23:40

yeah exactly you know they’re no different from any other generation.


Henry Rose Lee  23:44

So, and finally, what would your advice be to an older employee or maybe a team leader or a senior manager who’s about to embark on getting the best performance that they can out of their generations and how do you think they can do that.


Dan Sullivan  24:01

I think it’s all about communication, communication, and what I mean by that is, you know, at least, I saw study that I think one in five Gen Z others want to have some kind of feedback once a week, and an even higher percentage, you know they wanted to feedback, three times, I think in a couple of weeks. But the point is, you know, to provide feedback about, you know, be complimentary and, you know, this is a generation just coming into the work into the workforce so they need, you know guidance, but also, they also want to, they don’t want to be managed. So don’t manage and say, do this, do that. Give gives the younger generation a space to be creative and to have some autonomy in the workplace have that trust, and you’ll be surprised just how just how powerful that will be in terms of motivating. So I think that’s really important, I think just get to know your employees Personally, I think there’s some really nice touches you can do like before the before the employee starts even starts to run. You can ask them a few questions by email, you know, I just wonder what your hobbies are, what do you like to eat for lunch and then you can surprise them with something in the first week by like taking them to lunch and ordering something like, wow, how did you know that, and to have that personal touch will really make Gen Zed workers feel, you know feel wanted and included. So I think that getting co workers to kind of know really make them feel welcome. I think, you know, I think, team manager should be coordinating that. So I think yeah I think it’s just about. Also, you know, to portray what the values of the company are that’s going to come from the team leader. So to not be all about making money. You know what is the big goal and how can you make a difference, not just to the company, but to the, to the world and what social impact can you have. And I think it’s up to the team leader to really communicate that to really energise, the young workers.


Henry Rose Lee  26:25

That sounds absolutely wonderful. And I can tell by every word that you say just how passionate you are about this wonderful fresh talent that’s coming into our workforce system so thank you very much indeed Dan, really enjoyed that and I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit more. Thank you, about how best to get the contribution and the value from this generation as well as connect them with all the others so thank you very much indeed.


Dan Sullivan  26:50

Thank you, Henry, been a pleasure.

To connect with Dan Sullivan:

Gen Z Talks Website –

Gen Z Talks Youtube channel –

Gen Z Talks Instagram –

Dan Sullivan Linkedin –

Gen Z Talks Linkedin –


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