Whether you’re a small business start-up or a massive franchise, never underestimate the power of feel-good music to help create an inviting office space and positive work culture for employees. Happy music promotes creativity and original thought, according to findings reported by the University of Berkeley. But that’s just one reason to consider playing feel-good music in shared office spaces. Here are five more reasons from a music therapist….
Music Can Help Employees Interact
Music can help people connect and interact. As a music therapist for a behavioral health provider, I have seen this dynamic regularly play out in the support groups I lead. For example, I often ask patients to play their favorite “feel-good” song for the rest of the group and then share what about the song makes them feel good. It might be the lyrics. It might be the rhythm. Sometimes it’s the motivation of the song. Often, it’s something that the other group participants can relate to, giving them a sense of common ground and connection.
At other times, someone may share a song that another person in the group has never heard before but resonates with. Something about the tune helps them relate to the other person with greater empathy. In this way, the simple sharing of a tune becomes a means of connecting with others, building greater group unity and cohesiveness and lowering the defenses and inhibitions that can get in the way of interpersonal connection. One person’s positive mood thus becomes that much more contagious—and, who doesn’t want to work in an office where more people have the feel-good bug?
Music Can Improve Employees’ Mood
It may go without saying that if a song can make a person feel good, it can change their mood for the better. This is another lesson from facilitating music therapy for people in drug and alcohol rehab. Typically, patients have ended up in treatment because of sad situations, and talking about their disease with others in a group setting can feel somber.
Enter music. When patients listen to feel-good songs, the tone of the conversation changes and there’s an identifiable lift in mood. Just hearing a happy song gives them a positive feeling that they’re soon projecting for the benefit of others in the group. As a result, the hard work of going to group and participating in therapy seems a bit less burdensome.
A similar effect can occur for people going to work and doing their jobs. When they’re in better spirits thanks to upbeat music, their work can seem less like drudgery and a bit more fun.
Music Increases Motivation
Employees who listen to feel-good music will also be more motivated to work. An article in Making Music shared findings into how music increases motivation, including:
- Research that revealed “music has positive effects on mental fatigue caused by routine tasks, which is exactly what we suffer from at work.”
- The feedback of an HR manager who said his employees experienced more on-the-job focus, higher job satisfaction, and a 40 percent increase in productivity, thanks to music therapy in the workplace.
Music Decreases Anxiety, Agitation, Depression, and Stress
For companies that recognize the link between happy employees, a positive workplace culture, and the bottom line, this is a big incentive to bring music into shared office spaces. On this point, too, the research is well-established: Music significantly reduces the stress response, a 2013 study found. By how much? As much as 65 percent, according to research conducted by MindLab International in 2018.
Music Reduces Muscle Tension and Promotes Relaxation
In addition to the positive mental and emotional effects of a good tune, there are the physical ones. These have also been well-studied. Decades of research now show music is an effective tool for progressive muscle relaxation; and, a report by Harvard Men’s Health Watch noted many other health benefits.
In music therapy, a slow-tempo song can quiet the mind, relax muscles, and lower blood pressure and heart rate. One potential end result: healthier employees who are both happier and more productive.
Gary Wayne has been a musician for over 40 years, having performed locally, nationally and internationally from his home base in South Florida. He directs the music and fine arts therapy program at FHE Health, a national addiction and mental health treatment center.