Unlocking Motivation: The Power of Non-Cash Rewards and Choice in the Workplace

Apr 9, 2024 | Incentives & Recognition, Rewards Programs

Unlocking Motivation: The Power of Non-Cash Rewards and Choice in the Workplace

In the dynamic landscape of modern workplaces, the concept of motivation has evolved beyond the traditional cash bonuses and pay raises. Today, organizations are embracing the power of non-cash rewards to inspire and engage their employees. Moreover, the element of choice adds an extra layer of significance, making the rewards more memorable and impactful. Let’s delve into why non-cash rewards and choice are becoming the driving force behind employee motivation across diverse demographics in the workforce.

Rethinking Rewards: Beyond Cash Incentives

For decades, cash bonuses and salary increases were considered the gold standard for rewarding employee performance. However, research suggests that while monetary rewards may provide temporary satisfaction, they often fail to create long-lasting motivation or foster a sense of loyalty among employees.

Non-cash rewards, on the other hand, tap into intrinsic motivators such as recognition, personal development, and a sense of belonging. These rewards come in various forms, including:

  • Recognition and Appreciation: Simple gestures like public acknowledgment, personalized thank-you notes, or awards ceremonies can significantly boost morale and motivation.
  • Core values and corporate mission: It is best practice to tie these recognition programs to the corporate behaviors, culture and values your company has. It ensures alignment and helps prove you walk the walk.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Investing in employees’ growth through training programs, workshops, or mentorship initiatives not only enhances their skills but also demonstrates your organization’s commitment to their success. Have you considered connecting your employee development to rewards for reinforcing behaviors and talent growth?
  • Wellness Initiatives: Supporting employees’ physical and mental well-being through wellness programs, gym memberships, or mindfulness sessions fosters a positive work environment and reduces stress levels.

The list goes on… Innovation reinforcement, Safety or Quality Control practices etc. can all be programs affiliated with rewarding and recognizing a job well done.

The Psychology Behind Choice

While non-cash rewards hold immense potential, the power of choice amplifies their impact. Choice empowers individuals by allowing them to select rewards that resonate with their personal interests, preferences, and goals. This element of autonomy not only enhances the perceived value of the rewards but also strengthens the intrinsic motivation to perform at a higher level.

Why Choice Matters

  1. Personalization: Every individual is unique, with varying motivations and aspirations. Offering a range of reward options enables employees to personalize their rewards based on what matters most to them, whether it’s a gift card to their favorite restaurant or tickets to a concert.
  2. Increased Engagement: When employees have a say in their rewards, they feel more invested in the outcome. This sense of ownership drives greater engagement with the organization’s goals and fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation.
  3. Retention and Loyalty: Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to stay with their employers in the long run. By providing choice in rewards, organizations can strengthen employee loyalty and reduce turnover rates.
  4. Positive Psychological Impact: The freedom to choose fosters a sense of autonomy and control, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and overall well-being among employees.

How to Implement Non-Cash Rewards with Choice

To effectively harness the power of non-cash rewards and choice in the workplace, organizations can follow these best practices:

  1. Survey Employees: Understand the preferences and priorities of your workforce through surveys or focus groups to tailor reward options accordingly.
  2. Offer Variety: Offer a diverse range of reward choices, including tangible gifts, experiences, and opportunities for personal and professional development.
  3. Communicate Clearly: Clearly communicate the available reward options, eligibility criteria, and redemption process to ensure transparency and fairness.
  4. Encourage Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from employees to assess the effectiveness of the reward program and make adjustments as needed.


In today’s competitive landscape, organizations must go beyond conventional approaches to motivate and retain their talent. Non-cash rewards coupled with the power of choice offer a compelling solution to drive employee engagement, satisfaction, and performance across diverse demographics in the workforce.

By recognizing the individuality of each employee and empowering them to select rewards that align with their preferences, organizations can foster a culture of appreciation, collaboration, and success.

Embracing this paradigm shift not only benefits employees but also contributes to the overall growth and prosperity of the organization. It also shows that you appreciate everyone on the team.

Pam Pelino

Pam Pelino

Pam Pelino is the Senior Director of Rewards at One10 and leads the Rewards team and global rewards strategy. With over 20 years of experience leading high-performance teams, Pam has worked with some of the world’s largest brands, with a strong focus in the tech industry. Pam has experience working with enterprise, mid-market, and fast-growing start-ups, and has presented to global audiences in North America, Europe and Asia. Prior to One10, Pam held leadership positions in marketing, product marketing, and sales, and has managed international events. She is the recipient of multiple awards, as an entrepreneur, in retail and e-commerce areas. Pam has a passion for excellence and for finding fun, measurable ways to help teams do their best work. She says, “This is where the magic happens.” Contact Pam today to learn about the many choices with One10 Rewards programs.