Boost your workplace buzz: Ensure optimal dopamine levels

Have you ever experienced your team doing a really excellent job of keeping on top of tasks, completing projects in a timely manner, and seemingly smashing all their KPIs, but suddenly they experience a drop or ‘crash’ in energy and motivation? The answer to why this has happened is simple… Dopamine.

Dopamine is a neuromodulator and neurotransmitter which modulates, regulates, and triggers our motivation, desire to achieve something and to keep going at it until you experience success. Essentially, it is the neurotransmitter which allows us to feel pleasure and happiness; it is the rush and excitement we feel about starting and reaching new goals. But why would this cause a crash in energy and motivation, I hear you ask.

Just like most things in nature, dopamine has a peak, which naturally leads to a decay, or otherwise known as a ‘crash’ before returning to a baseline level. When in the office, your team’s baseline level is how they work on a day-to-day basis, with an increase of dopamine being continuously released when an exciting new project is started, or that top client has finally signed the terms of business. This keeps your physical body driven as well as creating the motivation and willingness required to see the project through! But experiencing this increase in dopamine will ultimately lead to a crash and a dip in team morale.

Here are our top tips on how to improve your team’s health and efficiency through dopamine levels, and how to avoid a severe crash in productivity.

Things to avoid so the team doesn’t crash:

  • Too many rewards
    This is a controversial point, as most people would believe that increasing rewards will keep your team motivated, however, too many unexpected rewards or an unstructured reward plan can destabilise our neurotransmitters. In the workplace, you will notice a lack of motivation, collaboration, and a decline in drive to complete the work to a high standard.
  • Do not overlap dopamine
    Kicking off a huge, exciting project with a big office party with food, music, or even a business trip is dopamine overload, and this tremendous peak will inevitably cause a crash within the team. Winning a huge contract will provide the team a generous dosage of dopamine in itself, so it is worth considering throwing an end-of-project party to celebrate the hard work of the team instead.

Maintaining a healthy balance of dopamine within your team can be a tricky balancing act. The best part about building a team is that you have different personalities and working styles working together to reach a cohesive goal, so naturally these individuals will have differing needs when it comes to a healthy release of dopamine.

Here are some examples of rewards and recognition techniques to keep your team engaged and driven:

  • MVP (Most Valuable Player) chosen by peers.
  • End-of-season celebration.
  • Reinvestment of savings back into the workforce benefits.
  • Teambuilding activities every 6 weeks.
  • Points system to unlock different levels of rewards.
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