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Why music may be a great addition to your workplace

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
Why music may be a great addition to your workplace

There have been countless studies on the effect music has on our brain. It is known that music does in fact have an impact on emotions, and can even improve our mood.

However, there seems to be a lack of studies that make the connection between listening to music and improved work performance. Associate professor for music therapy at the University of Miami, Teresa Lesiuk, identifies the positive effects in Psychology of Music: The effect of music listening on work performance.

“Mild positive feelings can influence the way cognitive material is organised, thus influencing creativity,” she explained.


“When music evokes a pleasant mood and an increased arousal state, participants perform better on non-musical tasks. Thus, there is support for an increase in creative problem solving and task performance by workers.”

These findings were made in a study of 56 employees from different Canadian software companies. The 41 male and 15 female workers were analysed over a five-week period. Results indicated that quality of work was lowest with no music, while time on task was longest when music was removed.

“Narrative responses revealed the value of music listening for positive mood change and enhanced perception on design while working. Evidence is provided of the presence of a learning curve in the use of music for positive mood alteration. Overall, the study contributes to the development of a model that aspires to elucidate music and workplace interactions; as well, it has implications for organizational practice,” detailed Ms Lesiuk.

The study found that participants preferred their own music and performed best while having control of what they were listening to.

With results determining that satisfaction and work performance were all enhanced while music was playing, it may be beneficial for employers to take these strategies on board in more workplaces.

Music Psychologist, Dr Anneli Haake, further discussed these concepts in her study: The Sound of Productivity: Analysing attitudes towards music listening in the workplace.

“Listening to music while working is by no means a new innovation. Songs, for a long time, helped people synchronise their movements and made the day go quicker. In the 1930s, recorded music was often used in factories to improve productivity and reduce boredom and fatigue,” said Dr Haake.

Her study of 4,553 people found that 79 per cent of people would benefit from music in the workplace, while only 62 per cent were allowed.

“While the research headlines speak for themselves, it’s the science behind the stats that can offer employers a real insight into the benefits of music in the workplace,” she said.

“Enjoyed as a private activity, music in offices can be seen by employees as a perk; a positive route to personal happiness and well-being. What’s more, it’s a clever way to help manage work environments and minimise interruptions; a cost-effective way to combat stress; and a positive technique for encouraging employee self-care.”

HR and people leaders can benefit from the above findings by thinking about how music is used in their workplaces. With plenty of participants noting improved performance, the addition of music may be the change your workplace is looking for.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.