Human Currency or Paper Currency? Creating Value in a Changing World.

ImageHuman currency has been exchanged for decades.  The practice of exchanging human labor in lieu of cash remains a staple in many world economies.  I have to admit that I had never really considered it a legitimate practice until recently.  I found my first job when I was 13 years old and, at the time, thought that money ran the world.  It seemed logical back then.

Things changed a few years ago when I started receiving requests in exchange for services, not money.  One day, I was offered artwork for helping with a resume.  I also enjoyed a professional caliber cooked meal in exchange for consulting services.

In addition to my experiences, I have seen other shifts that indicate a possible larger-scale reliance on human currency:

1)   The evolution of supply chains:   I attended the Chicago Green Fest this past weekend and supply chains were definitely a hot topic! Job seekers are increasingly looking to work for companies that simultaneously aim to increase profits and create social value.  According to a Bain & Company survey, 2/3 of respondents said they cared more about sustainability today than 3 years ago.  This trend shows that value is no longer exclusively measured by cash.  Human currency adoption may be necessary to support this shift.

2)   Increased Social Media Use:  We have all heard polarizing testimonies about social media.  Some people love it, and others despise it.   Success in social media is based on reciprocity.  This is why, unless you are Justin Beiber, engaged users are more desirable to follow.  If you share their information, they will share yours.  Humans are the common currency in the social media space.

3)   The Rise of Micro-Entrepreneurship: Individuals are working as freelancers in record numbers.  According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 4.1 million workers (or 14 out of 100) are self-employed full time.   Without a huge marketing budget, human currency may be necessary for small businesses to survive, especially in their infancy.

It’s still unclear if human currency will be adopted in the US on a larger scale.   It may take some time for vast numbers of medium and large sized organizations to jump completely on the bandwagon.  Still, it’s a useful concept to apply in any environment, even on a micro level.

What are your experiences with using human currency?

One response

  1. I’ve called it ‘work exchange’ rather than ‘human currency’. The latter sounds like we’re trafficking ourselves. I had a recent experience of human-currency/work-exchange, and found that both I and the other person valued each others’ talent and were happy to accomplish something without money. made it more down-to-earth.

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