That wouldn't be the first time I've heard of a recommendation from the technical side get implemented completely the wrong way by management! At least they meant well. I do hear similar stories from my friend where she works. A manager brings in treats every Wednesday from his own pocket as a gesture of goodwill. If he misses a week, the workers get upset. They sometimes get taken out to dinner as well, but then will complain about the food.
If memory serves, I think the trick to conditioning humans is to make the rewards random. Slot machines are addictive because the payout is random, even though you lose over time but the chance of the payout is always there so people will do the mind-numbing task of playing it. If the managers had simply randomized which days everyone could go down to the cafe to spend $8, then the feeling of entitlement wouldn't be there and they'd more goodwill. However, getting a group of managers to determine a randomized schedule for something would be like herding cats.