Recruiting Enablement Blog



How 4 happy hormones can keep workforces engaged during a crisis

Katherine Allison April 1, 2020

One of the most important things for people to do in times of doom and gloom is to look after their welfare. The news can be depressing and lockdown rules feel stifling, but some recent scenes of mass singing from balconies, group exercising respecting social distancing guidelines, and community applause for health workers around the world have shown just how important it is to keep positive and look after mental health.

Employers need to act now to help prevent their employees from being at serious risk of mental ill health during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Fear of infection and feeling isolated, along with concerns about job or income loss are just some of the knock-on effects from the pandemic that are all likely to increase the pressure and stress people are under.

As HR Director at Oleeo, I have been building a series of communications to ensure staff never feel alone. In order to keep well both mentally and physically, you need to look out for your four happy hormones. Here’s some more on what that means:

1. Endorphins - the exercise hormone

Politicians and doctors alike have stressed the importance of citizens continuing to ensure that they get in one form of exercise per day despite closing gyms and leisure centres. 

Exercising within the rules is vital to your wellbeing. It will keep you fit and healthy both mentally and physically,  getting the happy hormone endorphins flowing! At Oleeo, our employee benefits initiatives are offering free virtual fitness classes. We’ve also seen the rise of other stars such as Joe Wicks and his PE classes for school kids, equally tough for adults!

2. Oxytocin - the love hormone 

Being in a lockdown situation or self-isolation can be a lonely experience away from loved ones and your usual work friends. Of course, there is a duty to be responsible about following the social distancing guidelines. Fortunately,  today there are many more ways of preserving distant relationships than in decades before.

Human beings need social interaction, and our brains release the love hormone oxytocin no matter whether that interaction is face-to-face or via a device. It’s critical to  make every effort to speak to at least one friend or family member -- who is outside your household -- each day, and remember to reach out to those who may be feeling particularly isolated.  

It goes without saying that leaders and managers need to be keeping in touch and communicating with their teams on a frequent and regular basis. Like many businesses, we’ve increased the frequency of our all company meetings and emails. However, in addition to this formal sort of communication, facilitating interactions that are fun and social is key -- getting that oxytocin going. 

At Oleeo, there have been some great initiatives - from virtual coffee breaks to virtual Beer Fridays with teammates (and even family members!) taking part. As well, we’ve put social tools, like Google Chat and Slack, to work to support company-wide chats on fun topics, not just business.

3. Serotonin - feeling of importance and value 

It has been heartwarming to see the multitude of ways that people across the world have shown acts of kindness towards others in these difficult times. From delivering shopping to opera singing across balconies, the possibilities are endless! The sheer number of people signing up to be NHS (National Health Service) volunteers in the UK was awe-inspiring.

Of course, these acts of kindness are good for those on the receiving end, but the act of being kind to others releases serotonin, which in turn makes us feel of value and better about ourselves. It’s simple: do good to feel good 

The more we can develop this hormone, the better we are likely to feel at a time when politics dominates and speeches can feel depressing. Managers can impart this hormone to teams through the process with constructive feedback and positivity so no employee feels left alone, but that their efforts are indeed important and valued in times of business uncertainty.

4. Dopamine - the achievement hormone 

When our normal routine is disrupted, it’s difficult to feel motivated to keep working towards a goal of any kind. Try to find a 'new normal' and stick to a routine as much as possible. Every time you complete a task, you will feel a sense of achievement, which releases the happy hormone dopamine, flooding your brains and bodies with a sense of satisfaction. 

Only 31% of managers are thought to have the confidence to have sensitive discussions around mental health and signpost staff to expert sources of help, new figures published from the CIPD and Simplyhealth stated.  Feeding and nurturing these 4 happy hormones every day can go a long way to reducing stress and helping everyone feel more content and engaged at work.