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Instant Gratification Nation

Blog: Social Innovation

5/18/2017
— Harry Langdon 

Has anyone seen this video on millennials in the workplace? A generalisation has been made…and it is a bloody good one.

In it, Simon O. Sinek, an author and marketing consultant, talks about the DNA of a millennial and among the points he makes, the one that rang loudest for me was about ‘instant gratification’. We millennials (11.06.90 – looking forward to my birthday cards) have never known anything other than getting what we want instantly. Case in point, I don’t even have to go to the gym anymore, one perfectly edited picture of me in my speedos on Instagram and my ‘hard-sought’ gym body has bagged 30 likes. And there’s nothing wrong with that right? Well actually…

Although a slightly unusual comparison, O.Shank likens the sensation of gambling, for example winning at Blackjack, with the same feeling you get when you receive a social media ‘like’ or text. In both cases your body releases dopamine, which is why you feel good, and why like all good things, you can quickly become addicted. We’ve all been there – checked your mobile during a meeting? Zoned out of a conversation because ‘an important email just came through’ when you’re actually just checking WhatsApp? Asked your friend to send you that flattering picture of yourself because you need fodder for your next ‘like’ fix?

Guess where instant gratification doesn’t typically happen? At work. But does this have to be the case?

No – in fact, this is where internal communications comes into its own. Day after day employers are hiring millennials pumped with enthusiasm and ready to make an impact. Impact to them means gratification in a matter of days, weeks or months. Impact to an employer usually comes in the form of the overall output of the company, which isn’t something that can be improved on overnight.

So how do you solve this need for gratification? Through relationship building. It is often the smaller encounters at work that make the big difference. Having no phones in meetings or actually speaking with your colleagues over lunch. Creating the deep and meaningful relationships that result in employees taking satisfaction from their daily routine and wanting to come back to work. Employers need to enforce policies that help nurture the long-term satisfaction of millennials in the workplace and enable them to deal with the stresses that cannot be solved instantly, offering an environment where millennials are taught to work towards longer-term goals.

A life of ‘quick fixes’ isn’t healthy. Every accomplishment feels surface level and deep down you know you haven’t achieved anything meaningful. By setting and completing longer-term goals, you feel a greater sense of achievement and in the working world this is paramount, as there are no apps to hide behind. By fostering these relationships, not only will agencies boost employee satisfaction, but create a better output for the company.

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