listening_to_musicAs I am writing this, I have my headphones in listening to Neil Young singing about tin soldiers and Nixon coming, while planning out the most effective way to manage my time. This blog post is only one of many things on my list of things to do today, but I feel confident that I can handle every one of them effectively. The music in my ears is helping to focus my attention on certain tasks, and is allowing me to get more work done in a shorter amount of time.

But how can that be? Shouldn’t listening to music at work be distracting? Many might think that way, but the truth is that by allowing your employees to listen to music while they work may actually increase their performance output and allow for better creative problem solving.

Research has found that music can increase task performance by increasing positive affect (Isen, 1999; Schellenberg, 2001). When employees listen to music while they work, the music evokes a pleasant mood and increases alertness, causing better performance on non-musical tasks. Positive affect, or being in a good mood, can influence the way we organize things in our mind thus influence creativity. Research has demonstrated that people who experienced a positive mood as a result of listening to music showed better creative problem solving than those who did not listen to music and who had a neutral or depressed mood (Isen et al., 1987).

MusicWorks, a collaboration between UK music licensing groups PPL and PRS for Music, reached out to more than 1,000 small- and medium-business owners and learned that more than three-quarters (77 percent) have found that music increases staff morale. Additionally, 65 percent of business owners have found music makes their employees more productive, with 40 percent believing that playing music actually increases sales.

Taking these findings into account, personal audio merchandise used as incentive rewards, including headphones, iPods, and iTunes gift cards, may offer more incentives to increase work performance for recipients. In fact, this new research underscores the business benefits and long-term workplace satisfaction music-oriented rewards can provide.

It is important to note that while music may be beneficial to work performance, employees must remain respectful to co-workers by listening to their music using headphones or at a low volume.

So what does this mean for me? While all company cultures are different, by allowing your employees to freely (and quietly) listen to music while they work, you may significantly increase their creative output, quality of work, and the amount of time spent on each task. Not only will your employees enjoy coming to work more, but they may also help take the company to new heights by simply allowing the free flowing of ideas via music.

So plug in, press play, and allow those good vibes to help with your next project deadline.


Sam Fricchione is a Human Resources Consultant for Twinbrook Associates. He is currently completing a Master’s in Behavioral Science at Brown University, where he is active in recruiting and research related to employee performance and productivity.



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