While this may seem like a non-topic, having tunes on in the office has the potential to increase employee wellness, making staff happier and more productive. But that’s not true for everyone. In fact, some people find themselves too distracted if music is blaring, or unable to concentrate even with a little background noise. As with many workplace issues, it’s all about striking a balance. So, here are 4 important points for employees and employers when it comes to listening to music in the workplace.
1. The Psychology Behind It
First and foremost, let’s talk about the psychology behind music in the workplace. Neuropsychologist, Dr. David Lewis, explains that music is a good management tool to be used for increasing the efficiency of your workforce and their mental wellbeing. One study back in 1972 even found that factory workers performed better when happier, upbeat music was played.
That being said, for some, music can be a distraction they can do without. Music also has the potential to trigger emotional responses in many people, especially songs with lyrics. To get around this, employers may choose to play instrumental songs, or indeed songs in a foreign language that mean nothing to those listening. This may avoid employees losing concentration and help them to focus on the task at hand. Alternatively, some suggest that it may be detrimental to listen to music while trying to complete tough, complex tasks. In this case, silence may be the way forward. At the end of the day, this all comes down to personal preference. If a consensus cannot be reached among employees, no music at all may have to be the solution.
2. Think of the Genre
If you are going to pipe tunes around the office, it’s good to have a serious think about what genre you want to focus on. Maybe you want to find an eclectic playlist to try and fit in with everyone’s taste. Or, maybe you want to put the foot down and say that classical music is the only way to really focus the mind. Of course, the style of music you choose may depend on the workplace environment. No one is going to be pumped up in a gym by Beethoven’s 5th symphony and, equally, an IT consultancy may not want to play the latest trance tunes. Try to find a music genre or playlist that fits your office mood and the people you employ. What’s the best way to do this? Ask them.
3. You Might Need a Licence
Yes, you read that right, believe it or not, employers may need a licence to play music publically in the office. Here in Ireland, a PPI licence is required if you, as an employer, use copyright recorded music in public. Equally, in the UK, employers need a PRS for Music licence. These are in place to ensure that both record companies and performers are being fairly paid for the use of their music. There is a wide range of premises where the employer/owner are required to have a PPI licence – from shops to nightclubs to swimming pools. Be sure to check if your business requires a licence before putting the record on.
4. Get The Level Right or Use Headphones
Finally, it’s really important that not only the genre, but the sound level of the music is appropriate to the office. Remember, you don’t want to drown out teams of employees working together with loud music. Alternatively, workplaces may want to opt for no music being played publically in the office, but instead to allow employees to listen to music personally using headphones. The downside to this is perhaps a loss of interaction between employees on the office floor – yet it may also cut down the office chit-chat. Again, it’s all about finding what suits your business environment and your employees best.
Undoubtedly music in the workplace can contribute to a positive company culture, a strong employer branding, and has the potential to improve workplace productivity. Just be sensible with the policy you enact, get a licence if required and make sure employees are happy with the choices you make – especially if you are in charge of the playlist.
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