Forum: Reward good behaviour in Covid-19 fight to keep morale high, Forum News & Top Stories

Many members of the public, despite having not let their guard down over the past year and a half, have been beseeched time and again to keep playing their part in response to pandemic conditions seemingly beyond their control.

One observes that an imbalance remains between the carrot and stick: Enforcement of errant behaviour has been prompt, but reward of good behaviour has not been as apparent.

It is important to note that it is everyone’s inherent responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy society, and the motivation for good behaviour should be intrinsic rather than extrinsic.

However, this idealistic perspective is not incompatible with the disbursement of incentives for good behaviour.

As American billionaire investor Charlie Munger said: “Show me the incentive, and I’ll show you the outcome.”

The incentivisation of desirable behaviour is not unfamiliar in the Singaporean context. Apple and the Health Promotion Board have collaborated to promote healthy lifestyles, and rides on public transport are discounted during pre-peak periods.

Institutions have also been rewarded for good practices, such as the rail reliability incentives provided to public transport operators last year.

Similar strategies may be employed in the Covid-19 context to reward desirable behaviour, such as the reduction of unnecessary travel and avoidance of crowded locations, as well as the accumulation of negative Covid-19 tests.

For example, the time and frequency of SafeEntry check-ins can be used to determine rewards, like vouchers, for desirable behaviour.

Incentives can also be given to those who reduce their public transportation trips from their pre-pandemic average.

Other tools such as the number of TraceTogether hits per week may be used, although this could be made an opt-in policy because of privacy concerns.

Malls, workplaces and other public venues may also be rewarded for having low caseloads.

Covid-19 incentives have been touted to work in other places. For example, interest in getting vaccinated spiked in the United States after the authorities said vaccinated people could take off their masks, and after offers of up to US$1 million (S$1.3 million) in lottery prizes were made.

Residents should be rewarded if they have played their part in the drawn-out war against Covid-19.

Every soldier makes a difference in every battle, and we should keep our soldiers’ morale high to prevent attrition.

Ronald Chan

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