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Yesterday Prakash Patel, CEO of Prezence, looked at how and why the new millennial generation of talent in the marketing industry, and doubly so in the digital industry, seems to think that anything longer than 1.5 years in one job is a lifetime. We’ve also seen how this trend, which the industry has been complicit in creating, has affected not only agencies but the industry as a whole.

Now, having pointed out the elephant in the industry, Patel explains why he doesn’t just see it as a problem, but also an opportunity for the industry to motivate staff, and give them a purpose in their jobs.

The research described in the video is fascinating. It demonstrates how time and time again, regardless of where experiments to test this are done, the idea that if you pay more, people will produce more, is proven entirely wrong the moment that a job requires even the most minimal amount of thinking.

What motivates us?

When looking at what satisfies us in a given career, it’s vital to have a job with a purpose that stirs you every day.

I am not being naive as I totally appreciate the value of salary expectations and rewards. And yes, that means being able to do the basic stuff from writing briefs, contacts reports and marketing plans to the more exciting stuff like strategising for a brand, all of which can only come with experience.

A great video worth viewing (and sharing) is taken from a talk by management expert Dan Pink on “the truth about what motivates us” (see YouTube or watch below).

The research described in the video is fascinating. It demonstrates how time and time again, regardless of where experiments to test this are done, the idea that if you pay more, people will produce more, is proven entirely wrong the moment that a job requires even the most minimal amount of thinking.

Essentially, money isn’t the all-powerful motivator we like to see it as.

The research shows that purpose in what we do is most important when it comes to our motivations. Take what makes a prakash patelgreat teacher for example. They don’t do the job for money, but rather the purpose of being a teacher growing the next generation.

I think this is phenomenal. Even more so in our industry where creativity and innovation, driven by passionate people who must have a purpose in what they are doing, are our currency.  If you’re time-watching, then this isn’t the industry for you. To be successful in this industry, you can’t just chase the money. You must chase the career.

For instance, a recent innovation activity we have started at Prezence, driven by our Creative Director Lizané Connoway, is what she calls “Play Days.” From visiting a museum or writing their own song, once a month Lizané asks her creatives to take the day away from the office and to do something within the creative space they haven’t done before. The only requisite is that they then share what they have done (check out one of our creative’s play day outcomes here).

I intend rolling this out to our technologist/apps department and all business area in the coming year.

Transformation

From sponsoring students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and/or setting up a non-poaching policy charter for all members, it would be great if transformation became part of the purpose and mission of a “constitution” for official bodies like the DMMA.

The digital industry, like the rest of South Africa’s business world, has made steps towards transformation. But steps are not enough.

Rather than working together as an industry, individual companies are taking on the challenge of transformation in isolation. More can be done and should be done in collaboration with one another. As an industry, maybe by collaborating with official bodies like the Digital Media & Marketing Association (DMMA), we can speed up transformation through growing the talent pool, as opposed to fuelling this trend of poaching.

We should be encouraging and investing in the future of our industry – the youth, students, graduates, and in particular previously disadvantaged groups  –  to help grow our industry and help fill the gap from the bottom up.

However, this can only be done if we all buy into it.

From sponsoring students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and/or setting up a non-poaching policy charter for all members, it would be great if transformation became part of the purpose and mission of a “constitution” for official bodies like the DMMA.

For now our commitment as Prezence Digital is taking part in the Primedia Bursary Programme with the University of Cape Town, where youth will be given full bursaries and allocated mentors to help guide and develop them. This programme is overseen by the Primedia Foundation which awards bursaries with the aim of addressing the critical skills shortage in South Africa.

This part of my work gives me the greatest hope, reward and job satisfaction.

The passion shown by the 16 students we interviewed at the beginning of this year was heartening, encouraging and reassuring. They just wanted an opportunity to improve their lives and make their families proud.

What humbled me, however, was listening to students who while themselves were in need of help, still selflessly helped others. That, to me, is the root of transformation. As an industry, and as a country, we can all learn from this attitude.

Ultimately, like the rest of the economy, we must reflect the realities of South Africa’s population breakdown. Not only in terms of our workforce, but also ownership. In the short term, however, people who are active in this industry must be representative of South Africa in all senses – be it in racial or gender breakdowns.

As with the development of any industry, these people ultimately need to become its leaders.

If we as an industry plan on growing and providing digital solutions for the majority of South Africans, nothing will give us more knowledge into what the majority of South Africans want and need than just being reflective of that population.

So IMAGINE… if every agency of a certain size and revenue took on at least one graduate from a previously disadvantaged background, what a difference it would make to our industry and country at large!

Just imagine.

Yes, people will come and go and that’s part of growing and learning. But people can also stay and grow.

What we make of it is up to us.

To those starting out in the industry – although joining the current recruitment merry-go-round may be tempting, building a career is far more worth it. The joy and fun of working in advertising is something I would recommend to anyone, but to make the best of it, patience is crucial.

Purpose is what must drive you. The rewards will come in many forms.

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Published by Herman Manson

MarkLives.com is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter - http://twitter.com/marklives

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