Younger workers a force at ConAgra

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Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:00 am

ConAgra employees who enjoy the company's outdoor summer movie nights and free popcorn, who can check their work email on their own phones, or who are finding the Fortune 500 food manufacturer a little more engaging and not as “corporate” as before, might have a young professional to thank.

ConAgra's younger workers are changing the culture of the company from the bottom rungs up, said Angela Jones, a ConAgra human resources vice president, and that's been recognized by the Greater Omaha Young Professionals group.

ConAgra will receive the 2014 Young Professionals Choice Award in March at the annual Young Professionals Summit.

ConAgra's Young Professionals Employee Resource Network, started in 2008, allows younger workers to network with top executives, learn about unfamiliar parts of the business and practice leadership skills by organizing events, said Jones and the group's chairwoman, Jaime Emanuel, a marketing manager who joined the company in 2008 after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

In one network event, employees were able to anonymously text in questions or feedback for chief executive officer Gary Rodkin to respond to on the fly. “It was so fun,” Emanuel said.

She said businesses need to listen to their younger employees. Given its size, she said, “I think we all know the millennial generation is going to be taking over the corporate world.”

Dozens of firms were nominated for the award by members of the chamber's Young Professionals group. A committee narrowed the field to four, then toured and evaluated each. The other finalists were DLR Group design firm, Goodwill Industries and TD Ameritrade.

UMB Bank sponsors the award. Registration for the summit is open at www.omahachamber.org.

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