The holiday season is marked by the ubiquitous Christmas music … in stores, restaurants, fitness centers, and in many offices. The question for employers is what effect music in general has on worker productivity throughout the year. There’s been considerable debate on this, with pros and cons weighing in.
Benefits of Music in the Workplace
Studies going back more than 50 years have found some important benefits to music in the workplace. Common health benefits cited for having music in the workplace includes:
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Increase in immune function, motivation, and memory
- Decrease in pain
But does it help with productivity? Clearly health improvement translates into better job performance. There are also stats to show that ambient music (such as the sound of flowing water) improves accuracy of data entry in 92% of people. And there are findings that music helps maintain energy levels.
A Cornell study last year found that happy music fosters teamwork and cooperation. The music used in the study included the “Happy Days” theme song, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
Disadvantages of Music in the Workplace
There are some job functions that aren’t well served by some music. For example, songs with lyrics can interfere with learning new information.
And for some people music can be distracting or even annoying, depending on what’s being played.
Making Music Work
If you do decide to have music in your workplace, then figure out what works best for your situation. Is it ambient music? Classical pieces? Upbeat tunes?
Some ideas to consider:
- Change genres everyday
- Let employees listen to their music of choice with earbuds or headphones
- Limit music to certain areas, such as the break room
Try using music in your workplace. Perhaps get employee feedback about what to play, sound levels, etc. If you find that it’s more of a negative than a positive, you can always turn it off.