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Why Immediate Benefit Can Help You Achieve Your Goals Faster

Common wisdom and knowledge tells us that in order to stay persistent, you must create a meaningful long-term goal—a huge reward at the end of a tunnel that should get your team motivated enough to want to work harder and faster to get to it.

You have a long-term goal, a meaningful one at that, yet you’re absolutely nowhere close to hitting your key objectives for the quarter. Why isn’t this so-called “goal-setting” that every business guru has been raving about not working for me?

Here’s something to think about: your employees see benefits in the long-run, but is delayed benefit enough to keep them going?

Delayed Benefit v.s. Immediate Benefit

Immediate benefit or instant gratification are words and concepts that have received bad rap over the years. Tim Urban’s popular TedTalk about the “Instant Gratification Monkey” has shown us just how damaging it is to let our emotions at the moment dictate how to live our daily lives—at some point, you need to choose between “having fun” or doing the right thing in order to see benefits later.

But what would happen if your teams started working not only because they had to, but also because they enjoyed doing their jobs?

While too many immediate benefits can certainly diminish our motivation and drive to do anything, earning them in small doses can actually help us achieve long-term goals, at least according to this recent study.

 A group of people online were asked two question about the goals they set at the beginning of the year: one, how important is the goal to you in the long run (delayed benefit)? And two, how enjoyable is the process of getting to that goal (immediate benefit)?

 After following up with them two months later, the study found that enjoyment was a more accurate predictor of goal persistence than how important the goal was to the participants.

 You might be thinking that, of course, both delayed benefit and immediate benefit are main contributors to successfully reaching company objectives, but actually, according to the above study, immediate benefit (enjoyability) had a stronger influence on persistence than delayed benefit.

While setting long-term goals and key objectives is important, if you want to achieve these results faster, then add elements of fun, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose to the work your teams do.

How to Make Pursuing Long-term Goals More Enjoyable

Give instant yet simple rewards

When we think of a “fun work environment,” the first thing that comes to mind is the ping-pong table Google keeps on-site for their employees to enjoy. While activities like that could be one of the reasons why Google made it to Glassdoor’s “Top 10 Best Places to Work,” you can still make work a more comfortable space for your team to work in without being this extravagant.

Something as simple as installing a high-end coffee maker at the office, showing more appreciation in the workplace, writing a LinkedIn recommendation for an employee, putting indoor plants around the office, or bringing in a box of donuts to work once a week can really help boost employee morale.

Become a network, and ditch the hierarchy

It’s time to ditch the work hierarchy mentality and adopt a more connected business structure: a work network. It’s more flexible, more efficient, and more importantly, involved. If you want your team members to become more persistent and actually stick to company objectives, you need to give them a sense of ownership—when you turn your employees into owners, their work will give them a bigger sense of purpose, and will actually make their work enjoyable and not just “tolerable.”

To do that, they need to learn to think as a collective and not as separate departments. Whenever you hold a meeting, do so on a company-level and not just department-level; make meetings more about company goals rather than tactical ones. Let every employee in on the company’s ultimate goals and objectives, and not just the executives.

Allow your teams to feel like they’re part of something big and great. Every employee wants to feel that their contributions are important to the company, and not just the c-suite.

Create a valuable and purposeful company culture

Building on the idea of ownership and giving your employees the chance to contribute, it’s also important that they actually care about what they’re contributing too. In other words, they need to really care about your company’s vision, values, and purpose.

In fact, for employees, a company’s mission and culture (i.e. values and purpose) matter more than compensation. It’s more important for team members to feel like they’re adding value to the world, making a difference, and being heard.

Creating a company culture that taps into your employees’ inner values will also create a sense of transparency and authenticity within your organization. When your values align with the work you’re doing, your job becomes a lot more fun and enjoyable.

Immediate benefit can be a good thing, but work isn’t always going to be fun…

… However, keeping your employees engaged by allowing your employees to be more involved and contribute to the company’s long-term goals and vision, anything fun you incorporate throughout the work week—whether it’s quality cup of coffee or leading interesting company projects—will keep your employees persistent and motivated to achieve their objectives.

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