Maximizing Employee Happiness with Strategic Rewards

BY Lucy Fang
Dec 15, 2023
Rewarding employees with the right rewards to minimize employee engagement and satisfaction

Unlocking Workplace Happiness Through Strategic Rewards

In today’s dynamic work environment, achieving employee satisfaction and happiness is not just a goal—it’s a necessity for fostering a productive, innovative, and resilient workforce. But how can organizations effectively enhance workplace happiness? The key might lie in the strategic use of rewards and incentives. Grounded in robust psychological theories such as Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory and Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory and validated by empirical research like the “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” study, the impact of well-designed reward systems on employee happiness is profound and multifaceted. Reading this article will help you understand how rewards and happiness in the workplace can impact your organzation.

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In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into how thoughtful rewards and incentives can significantly boost workplace morale, satisfaction, and, ultimately, productivity. By examining these psychological principles and their practical applications, we aim to provide valuable insights for businesses looking to elevate their employee engagement strategies. So, are you ready to unlock the secrets to a happier, more motivated workforce? Let’s dive in and discover how the right blend of rewards and recognition can transform your workplace environment.

The Transformative Power of Buying Time with Rewards and Creating Happiness in the Workplace

The pivotal study “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” uncovers a key insight: investing in time-saving services boosts life satisfaction. This principle holds immense potential in the workplace, especially when applied to rewards and incentives:

  • Efficiency as a Reward: Consider the impact of time-efficient rewards like All Digital Rewards’ customizable prepaid debit cards. These streamline the reward process, freeing employees from the complexities of traditional systems, and giving them more time for personal pursuits, which in turn enhances job satisfaction.
  • Quality of Life Enhancement: Time-saving isn’t just about reducing hours spent on tasks; it’s about enriching employees’ lives. When workers feel that their time is valued, it boosts their morale and productivity, fostering a positive workplace environment.
  • Cultural Statement: Implementing time-efficient rewards goes beyond mere convenience. It signals a company’s commitment to respecting employees’ time and promoting work-life balance, a crucial aspect of modern corporate culture.
  • Direct Impact on Business: These time-saving measures reflect positively on your business, demonstrating a forward-thinking approach that prioritizes employee well-being and aligns with the contemporary workforce’s needs.

In sum, time-saving rewards are more than just benefits; they are a strategic tool to enhance workplace satisfaction and overall employee well-being.

Unleashing Potential with Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Diving into the realm of motivational psychology, Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory provides a compelling framework for understanding employee satisfaction and motivation. This theory distinguishes between ‘Hygiene factors’ (like salary and work conditions) that prevent dissatisfaction and ‘Motivators’ (like recognition and personal growth) that truly drive satisfaction. Integrating this theory into your rewards strategy can revolutionize how your employees perceive their work and rewards:

  • Beyond Basic Needs: While hygiene factors are essential, they don’t necessarily enhance job satisfaction. It’s the motivators – aspects like recognition, achievement, and responsibility – that play a pivotal role. Your rewards program, by focusing on these aspects, can elevate employee morale and satisfaction.
  • Recognition as a Key Motivator: One of the strongest motivators in the workplace is recognition. By acknowledging the hard work and achievements of your employees through meaningful rewards, you create a culture of appreciation and respect. This can lead to increased loyalty, productivity, and a sense of belonging among your staff.
  • Personal Growth and Achievement: Encouraging personal growth and providing opportunities for achievement can significantly boost employee satisfaction. Tailoring rewards to support employees’ professional development, such as training programs or educational opportunities, aligns with their intrinsic motivations for self-improvement and career advancement.
  • Impact on Employee Retention and Engagement: When employees feel that their needs for achievement and recognition are being met, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to the organization. This not only enhances their job satisfaction but also contributes to a more positive and productive work environment.

Herzberg’s theory, when applied through a thoughtful rewards strategy, can be a powerful tool in crafting a work environment that not only meets basic employee needs but also fosters a deeper sense of satisfaction and engagement.

Empowering Employees with Self-Determination Theory

Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory provides a robust psychological framework for understanding employee motivation, emphasizing three key needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Applying this theory to your incentive programs can significantly enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.

  • Autonomy and Choice in Rewards: Autonomy, the need for control over one’s actions, is critical in the workplace. By offering customizable rewards, such as a wide range of options in your incentive programs, employees feel a sense of ownership and control over their rewards, leading to greater job satisfaction.
  • Fostering Competence through Tailored Incentives: The need for competence, or a sense of efficacy, can be addressed by aligning rewards with personal and professional growth opportunities. For example, incentives that include skill-building workshops or certifications not only reward employees but also help them feel more competent in their roles.
  • Building Relatedness with Team-Centric Rewards: Relatedness, the need to feel connected to others, can be nurtured through team-based rewards and recognition programs. Such initiatives foster a sense of belonging and strengthen team dynamics, contributing to a more cohesive and satisfying work environment.
  • The Impact on Overall Well-Being: When incentive programs are aligned with these psychological needs, they go beyond mere transactional benefits. They contribute to the overall well-being and motivation of employees, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement.

Integrating Self-Determination Theory into your rewards strategy not only ensures that employees’ psychological needs are met but also creates a more dynamic, fulfilling, and motivating workplace culture.

“Integrating All Digital Rewards into our incentive program has transformed our workplace. The employee’s ability to choose what they want when selecting rewards, like professional courses or wellness retreats, empowers our team, making them feel valued. A team member’s confidence soared after selecting a coding workshop, directly enhancing her performance. Moreover, team-centric rewards have significantly improved our team dynamics. This program is more than recognition; it’s a catalyst for growth, unity, and fulfillment in our work environment.”
Jordan G.
Project Manager

Harnessing Positive Psychology in Reward Systems

Incorporating insights from Positive Psychology into reward systems can profoundly impact employee happiness and satisfaction. This approach focuses on leveraging strengths and fostering well-being rather than merely addressing weaknesses or dissatisfaction. Here’s how positive psychology principles can enhance your rewards and incentive programs:

  • Gratitude and Recognition: Central to positive psychology is the concept of gratitude. When employees feel genuinely appreciated, their job satisfaction and loyalty increase. Implementing rewards that express sincere gratitude, such as personalized thank-you messages or awards for specific achievements, can create a positive workplace atmosphere.
  • Strength-Based Rewards: Positive psychology encourages focusing on individual strengths. Tailoring rewards to align with employees’ unique skills and interests not only boosts their confidence but also their engagement. For instance, offering a photography course as a reward to an employee passionate about photography demonstrates a deep understanding and appreciation of their individuality.
  • Promoting Positive Experiences: Positive psychology is not just about tangible rewards but also about enriching experiences. Organizing team retreats or personal development workshops as part of the rewards program can lead to lasting positive memories and experiences, contributing to a happier and more cohesive team.
  • Building Resilience through Challenges: Rewards that involve overcoming challenges, like problem-solving games or creative contests, can build resilience and a positive mindset. These activities not only serve as a break from routine but also provide a sense of accomplishment and joy.
  • Impact on Overall Workplace Culture: Integrating positive psychology into reward programs can transform the overall culture of your organization. It creates an environment where positivity is nurtured, and employees are motivated to contribute their best, knowing their efforts are recognized and valued.

By embedding the principles of positive psychology in your rewards and incentives, you create a workplace that doesn’t just aim for productivity but also cherishes and cultivates employee well-being and happiness.

Crafting a Holistic Employee Satisfaction Strategy

A holistic approach to employee satisfaction combines the insights from the “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” study, Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, Self-Determination Theory, and Positive Psychology, creating a comprehensive and effective strategy for workplace happiness. This integration transforms therories into practice and offers a multi-dimensional view of employee satisfaction that goes beyond traditional reward systems:

  • Balancing Time Efficiency and Psychological Needs: While time-saving rewards, as highlighted in the “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” study, are crucial for satisfaction, it’s equally important to address the psychological needs outlined in Herzberg’s and Deci’s and Ryan’s theories. A well-rounded reward program should offer both time-saving options and opportunities for personal growth, recognition, and fulfillment.
  • Recognition and Personal Development: Aligning with Herzberg’s Motivators, focus on rewards that offer recognition and opportunities for personal development. This could include career advancement programs, skill-building workshops, or even public acknowledgment of achievements. Such rewards not only fulfill the need for esteem but also promote a sense of accomplishment and growth.
  • Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness: Drawing from Self-Determination Theory, ensure that your rewards cater to the intrinsic needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Offer choices that allow employees to feel in control (autonomy), provide opportunities to enhance skills (competence), and foster a sense of community and belonging (relatedness).
  • Cultivating Positivity and Resilience: Integrating Positive Psychology in your strategy means focusing on strengths, cultivating resilience, and encouraging positive experiences. Rewards that promote a positive outlook and resilience, such as wellness programs or team-building activities, can significantly enhance overall job satisfaction.
  • The Cumulative Effect on Workplace Culture: The cumulative effect of these integrated approaches leads to a more positive, productive, and satisfying workplace culture. Employees feel valued not just for their time but for their whole selves, leading to higher engagement, loyalty, and performance.

By weaving together these various strands, your employee satisfaction strategy becomes more than just a program; it becomes a key part of your organizational culture, driving both individual fulfillment and collective success.

Cultivating a Thriving Workplace through Strategic Rewards

As we draw our exploration to a close, it’s evident that the key to unlocking true employee happiness and satisfaction lies in a multifaceted and strategic approach to rewards and incentives. By integrating insights from the “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” study, alongside the profound wisdom of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory, and Positive Psychology, we pave the way for a more fulfilling and productive workplace.

The journey to employee satisfaction is not a one-size-fits-all path. It requires a deep understanding of the diverse needs and motivations of your workforce. The ultimate goal is to create an environment where employees feel genuinely appreciated, not just for their contributions but also for their unique qualities and aspirations.

In implementing these strategies, combined with effectively communicating with employees, you’re not just enhancing job satisfaction; you’re building a workplace culture that values well-being, personal growth, and a sense of community. Such a culture not only benefits individual employees but also contributes to the overall success and resilience of your organization.

Discover how to create an enviroment of openess and transparency by reading our blog “Effective Communication Strategies in the Workplace Enhances Employee Engagement”

As you move forward, consider how you can apply these insights to your own rewards and incentive programs. Remember, the most successful organizations are those that continually adapt and evolve, always keeping the happiness and satisfaction of their employees at the forefront of their strategies.

“Imagine a workplace where every employee feels genuinely appreciated and motivated. How close is this to your current environment”?

Inspired by our insights, it’s time to put theory into practice. Start by evaluating your current rewards strategy with our specially designed Employee Rewards Self-Assessment Checklist. This tool is tailored to guide you in aligning your rewards program with the proven principles of workplace satisfaction.

Download the checklist, engage with its insightful queries, and uncover areas of your program that can be enhanced for greater impact. Remember, every step you take towards refining your rewards strategy is a step towards cultivating a happier, more productive workplace.

Learn More About Maximizing Workplace Satisfaction and The Employee Rewards Self-Assessment Checklist Here.

Embrace this chance to transform your approach to employee satisfaction. Your journey towards a more motivated and fulfilled workforce begins with contacting All Digital Rewards now.


Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B. B. (1959). The Motivation to Work. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1980). Self-determination Theory: When Mind Mediates Behavior. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 1(1), 33-43. Retrieved from

Whillans, A. V., Dunn, E. W., Smeets, P., Bekkers, R., & Norton, M. I. (2017). Buying Time Promotes Happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(32), 8523-8527.