How the right songs could transform your workplace
Music has long been celebrated as an almost magical way to improve performance at a huge variety of tasks.
It’s been shown to encourage better results in cognitive tasks, like the verbal and spatial tests people often complete for job applications.
While it is an activity that’s commonly coupled with a pair of headphones, experts aren’t set on the effectiveness of listening to music while studying, since our brains struggle to multi-task and recreating the same environment isn’t always easy.
Still, even gardeners swear by the power of music, with following studies that suggest music improves plant growth.
With all these potential applications, it seems music must have significant benefits. So could your business be making use of music? Are you just a playlist away from happier, more productive employees?
We’ve looked at a few ways you could consider using music to help your business.
Make work less stressful
Are your employees stressed? You’d hope this was avoidable, but sometimes it may be part of the nature of the industry. Shift work, dangerous or unpredictable jobs, and life-or-death decisions can all send blood pressure rising in your organisation.
If your business is a naturally stressful environment, music might go some way towards alleviating tension in your employees.
Music can improve our emotional wellbeing, so even if it’s just having some relaxing tunes on in the break room between shifts, this may be a way you can relax your employees.
You might even consider moving away from music entirely and just playing nature sounds. These have been shown to be effective for relaxation in certain settings, particularly when people are already highly stressed.
Increase productivity on simple tasks
When you’re working on a task that is simple, either by its nature, or through your level of expertise or experience with it, your brain tends to work on auto-pilot. The task itself isn’t very stimulating, and so music can help.
It’s been shown that there is an intermediate level of stimulation where we work most effectively. Playing music can stimulate us further, adding to what little stimulation the simple job provides, to get us into this intermediate state.
Conversely, complex tasks are typically very stimulating, and so our brains are unlikely to need, or benefit from, any further stimulation. In fact, listening to music while trying to figure out something complex could actually hinder performance.
If you’re analysing your payroll data, there are various ways to make things easier for yourself, like using Findmyshift’s reporting features and visualisations. Putting on a complex song that runs the risk of overstimulating your brain isn’t going to help.
Music choice varies between individuals
The extent to which music helps us depends on our personality, as well as the task in hand. The same principle of stimulation we applied to task complexity is true for personality types as well.
The rule of thumb is that more outgoing people will need extra stimulation to get into the intermediate stimulation state where they’ll perform best.
Conversely, introverted people may already be stimulated enough by their environment, and so may find music, like any other background noise, distracting.
This means for playing music in a shared space, like a shop floor, you’ll need to find the lowest common denominator. Something that’s inoffensive to customers and unlikely to overstimulate employees is a safe choice.
You should also consider how music can be applied individually. Perhaps you can set your own music when you’re in your office, and let any others who work alone in a space do the same.
Loop a song to find your flow state
Retail workers may be surprised by this tip, especially if they’ve ever been driven mad by a limited playlist at work or endless Christmas songs. But if you choose the right song, listening to a single track on repeat can actually help achieve a flow state.
Your choice of song will likely be a mix of the task at hand, personal preferences, and your personality, so don’t just stick a song on over the intercom and expect your employees to perform.
But if you can find a track that works for you, looping it could help you stay focused in your own personal space.
Whatever music you choose, it’s worth communicating with your employees so they understand why you’ve suddenly starting playing songs or changed their playlist. Hopefully, doing it for them will go down well and can lead to a more productive business.