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Hired A Millennial Worker Lately? NC Companies Make Fortune Magazine List

Kenan Flagler Blog

It’s been a tough job market for the young worker since the last recession and economic downturn.  Many in that under-35 age group have been squeezed out for lack of experience or credentials.

But a growing number of companies are seeing the benefits of hiring Millennial workers.  Two North Carolina companies in the Triangle stand out.

It’s hard to keep up with all the “best places to work” lists that include analytics software giant SAS.

Well, here’s another one.  SAS is one of the top 10 workplaces for millennials, according to Fortune Magazine.

Jenn Mann is SAS’s VP of HR.

“Everything that I’ve read and what I know about millennials SAS has a perfect environment for that.  We were kind of ahead of our time," said Mann.

SAS has been recognized worldwide for keeping its workers comfortable with everything from exercise gyms to day care for the kids.

But Mann says they saw the need to step up their Millennial recruitment game a few years ago.

“We have a large population that has been here for over 20 years. We’re starting to see what we knew, what was going to happen is more retirements," said Mann.

Today, young workers under 35 make up about 24 percent of the US SAS workforce.  Still, the average age of SAS’s employees is 45.

Last month, I met a couple of SAS’s best and brightest.  We chatted during lunch.

"I’m eating some sort of kale salad with an apple for lunch," said Stephen Clowes.  "And peanut butter.  And water.”

Stephen Clowes is 24-years-old.  He’s a Social Content Specialist, part of the Marketing Department.  After two internships at SAS, he wanted to stay.

“Even when I was an intern and still I’m just a baby when it comes to full-time job years, the best part about it, they let you make an impact from day one," said Clowes.

Millennials, Millennial Workers
Credit Stephen Clowes
WUNC's Leoneda Inge interviewing SAS millennial workers Stephen Clowes and Alexandria McCall.

Twenty-three-year-old Alexandria McCall agrees.  She started working at SAS June 1, after getting a Masters in Analytics.

"I like to ask a lot of questions and I feel like I can do that here and I don't have to be judged," said McCall.  "And I feel what I’m doing here is meaningful.”

Less than two miles from the SAS campus in Cary is Engineering Design Firm, Kimley-Horn.  Two North Carolina companies and a non-profit church made Fortune’s Top 100 Workplaces for Millennials.  They include SAS, Elevation Church in Matthews and Kimley-Horn.

Kelly Sizemore is the Kimley-Horn's regional HR manager.  She says they have worked hard catering to the young worker.  In fact, today, 30 percent of its workforce is under 30.

“We have hired a lot of new, really bright, energetic young professionals, like I said, in the last 3 to 4 years, and even before that.  Especially as we started to grow again coming out of the recession," said Sizemore.  "It’s a lot of fun to be around those people.”

One of those young people is 25-year-old Taylor Honeycutt. He’s worked for Kimley-Horn, full-time, since 2013.  He was enticed to come to the company after a co-op program.  Honeycutt worked three semesters at Kimley-Horn while still a student at NC State.

Millennials, Millennial Worker
Credit Leoneda Inge
Taylor Honeycutt, 25, has worked for Kimley-Horn since 2013.

“So, it pushed back my graduation date about 6 months or so, but it was definitely worth it to get that experience in," said Honeycutt.

Honeycutt says he knew this was the company for him.  He liked the people and the projects.  And he likes the perks!

“From the financial side, we get great benefits here, retirement, the bonuses, it’s about bonuses, certain stuff like that, definitely keeps me around," said Honeycutt.

Oh, the bonuses.  I almost forgot.  The Kimley-Horn work culture includes half-day Fridays – every Friday.  And bonuses are handed out all the time. There are spot bonuses, worth hundreds of dollars.  But the Teamwork Award is a favorite.  Any employee can select another employee for this $50 gift.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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