This songs gone gold
Could music be an untapped gold mine for corporations? We spend so much time and money trying to create an atmosphere in the workplace, but have we considered music, are we missing something that’s right before our ears every day of the week. It’s not by accident that armies went to war to the beat of a drum, to stirring national anthems, or that sporting clubs have club songs to rouse the supporter armies into a frenzy. On a recent trip to Melbourne Australia, a 90,000 plus stadium crowd witnessed the traditional singing of You’ll never walk alone, by the Liverpool football club fans, many of whom were Australian. There is no denying the impact that had on the atmosphere in the stadium and frankly, even in your living room, if you were watching it on TV.
Music for the office masses
Have you noticed how, as we go open plan faster than a speeding bullet, that earphones are creeping in to the office from the trams, trains and automobiles. People everywhere are blocking out the distracting impacts of open plan noise, conversations etc. with music, or even white noise (noise cancelling) earphones.
Open plan is of course meant to promote communication, collaboration and networking. It’s meant to create an environment where ideas are bounced about with enthusiasm, and innovation is ignited by little sparks of interaction between employees. But for many of us, immersing ourselves in a favourite piece of music is the key to concentration and to innovation.
Imagine an office where a server full of music, maybe even iTunes, was available to every employee at their desk. Imagine an office where part of your on-boarding kit was a set of noise cancelling headphones.
Moved by the music
Music has a profound effect on our emotions. For me, a mad lover of all types of music, there is nothing more rousing than a dose of Jerusalem by William Blake. World in Union, the anthem of the Rugby World Cup gets me stirred up and ready for battle. On the other hand, Pretty hard to be in a bad mood with Tijuana Brass doing a Little Spanish Flea, or perhaps a Mexican Hat Dance. OK, maybe not that great for the office.
I remember I had a tough meeting with a couple of recalcitrant characters many years ago. They were intimidating other employees during an industrial relations campaign and I had to discuss their activities with them. I had a longish drive to an office where I was to meet them and I put a CD on in the car that a friend had burnt for me. It was The Offspring, an American punk rock band. I turned it up loud and by the time I arrived on site I was so cranked up I needed to be chained to a pole for everyone’s safety. Now I’m not endorsing stirring yourself into a perfect storm as an appropriate management technique. Not one iota. I am simply making the point that music is incredibly powerful in evoking emotions. How many movies have you ever watched where music is not instrumental in setting the mood. It’s there for everything from slapstick humour to unexpected moments that terrify you out of your trousers. As a little aside, the one exception to this I know is The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Not a note of music in the whole movie, but regardless and given its age, a chilling movie none the less.
How can we harness this incredible power source in the work place. If I need to concentrate, really concentrate, then I go for classical music. No words to distract me. If I am a little cranky, I will go for something more upbeat. If I am exhausted, I might want something with a dance beat.
Mozart makes my mathematical mind marvelous
Ever heard of the Mozart effect? No?
“The Mozart effect can refer to:
A set of research results indicating that listening to Mozart’s music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as “spatial-temporal reasoning;
Popularized versions of the hypothesis, which suggest that “listening to Mozart makes you smarter”, or that early childhood exposure to classical music has a beneficial effect on mental development;” Mozart Effect
There has been extensive research undertaken that proves the benefits of listening to Mozart’s music whilst studying. The impacts include significantly improved results on exams. The theory is that Mozart’s music is so complex (mathematically complex), that your brain has to really kick into another gear to process what you’re hearing and whilst you’re firing in this gear, and for sometime afterward, your performance is significantly enhanced. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that children who study music from a young age are often more capable in the foundations of mathematics, as music is constructed on series of mathematical structures.
A diet of Music, it’s good for the heart and soul
We all know of the incredible impact music therapy has on chronically and terminally ill patients. Where all else fails, tests show a significant improvement in the comfort of these patients when listening to music and in fact it’s physically evidenced by lower blood pressure, heart rates etc. We also know it’s incredibly important to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace in order to maximize performance and increase employee engagement.
“Music was played intermittently to members of the experimental group during the first 24 hour postoperative period. Pain intensity was measured using the Pain Verbal Rating Scales (VRS). Significant decreases in pain intensity over time were found in the experimental group compared to the control group (p < 0.0001). In addition, the experimental group had a lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate, and took fewer oral analgesics for pain. These findings suggest that music therapy is an effective nonpharmacologic approach for postoperative pain management.” Music Therapy
For that matter, maybe we should have a couple of golden retrievers or a mad dalmatian walking about the office, companion pet style. I know heaps of people whose spirit would lift with a wet nose imploring them for a pat.
It’s really only just yesterday when the older generation would comfortably label a young person with headphones and music playing, as a lay-about who needed an honest job. Now we are seeing both junior and senior employees all enjoying the many benefits of music in the workplace. What are you doing in your workplace? Sing us your song.