“What would you do if your income were taken care of?”
This is the question that many European countries are asking of its citizens. Finland has answered this question by providing a basic guaranteed income to its unemployed workforce as a strategic initiative during challenging and changing economic times.
As noted in this video clip, the guaranteed income scheme is an experiment based on the compensation concepts of motivation and rewards. In this case, the reward provided by a guaranteed income for two years should act as a motivator to those who are unemployed. It allows them to take on a low-paying job without having to file reports or pay back the government income.
It seems that this incentive plan is based on the positive pull of income as reward. If a basic income is guaranteed, will a person want to increase the level of their potential rewards by taking on low-paying work without risk of losing the guaranteed pay? Does a guaranteed reward lead to motivation for more rewards?
On the other hand, as mentioned in the clip, if the person wants to stay on the couch and do nothing for two years, they have that choice as well. Will the guaranteed income represent a reward for doing nothing?
The hope, or theory, is that the pull of positive potential should outweigh the drag of negative inertia.
If Canadians were able to build a similar strategy built on possibilities and belief in human potential, how far could it go?
In a Canadian context, if such a plan could be offered to our own unemployed workforce, perhaps it would allow for young workers to take on unpaid internships; for workers displaced by automation to try something new that builds on unused skills; for older workers who have been laid off, to become productive again instead of discarded and left out.
No matter what the outcome will be over the next two years in Finland, this innovative experiment exploring the basic links between the value of work and the value of rewards will likely have impact around the world.
- If you had a basic guaranteed income for the next two years, what choices would you make to improve your current situation?
- In a Canadian context, how could employers benefit from a basic guaranteed income strategy?
- What are the risks associated with this experiment?