Many companies can’t imagine their employees working without some light music — or loud, booming music, depending on your office culture. Without music, the workday can feel like a long, dull slog punctuated by awkward silence. In fact, there has been research showing that music in the workplace can actually be beneficial, both for the employees and for the company as a whole.
A study by MusicWorks shows how embedded music can be in the work environment:
77% of small- and medium-sized businesses report that music increases staff morale
65% of business owners say music makes their employees more productive
40% say playing music increases sales
MusicWorks’ stats are even more prominent in specific industries:
81% of retailers think music boosts staff morale
84% of hospitality business owners report music improves morale
Without music, 25% of retailers and 33% of hospitality companies report they would lose business
But even in companies when music can boost morale and productivity, giving employees free reign over the music selection is where things can get dicey. Music can be an emotional, personal thing. Just imagine these three scenarios erupting in your own office.
Taylor Swift’s Latest Album Gets Everyone Sharing TMI
Taylor Swift is famous for her impossibly catchy confessional music, in which her lyrics speak about her deeply personal experiences with ex-boyfriends and new relationships. Sure, “Blank Space” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” are toe-tapping jams sure to bring smiles on everyone’s faces as they work, but sometimes Swift’s up-front nature gets a little too inspiring.
Soon, everyone in the office is going on and on about everything that was wrong in their last relationships, how they wish they could kiss the guy from accounting while wearing a new gown in the pouring rain, and defiantly “shaking it off” to anyone who dares critique their work.
Intra-office Arguments Erupt Over Favorites
Picking the Rolling Stones or the Beatles has been a rock 'n’ roll debate since the dawn of each of these bands. But try to introduce this issue in the office, and it’s like you’ll be drawing a line in a battlefield.
Suddenly Jane from marketing who toured with the Rolling Stones in high school can’t even look Rob from sales in the eyes anymore, ever since he labeled "Eleanor Rigby" the best song ever. And the young interns will just be shielding themselves from death stares under their desks when they call both bands “Dad music.”
Nostalgia Goes Too Far
Travelling back in time via music is one of its greatest qualities — but be careful with those millennials. Start playing an old-school Backstreet Boys track on your mellow music station and suddenly no one will get any work done for the next 3.5 minutes because the shrieks are loud enough to be heard from the moon.
Editor Rebecca starts crying and screaming at the same time, Abby starts elbowing everyone around her to get closer to the music by force of habit, and everyone else is just huddled trying to block their ears from the deafening sounds.
Music can be great for productivity, morale, and overall organizational culture, but all managers should be very, very careful about music selection to avoid utter chaos.