Why Your Office Should Be Playing Music

Music’s one of those things that’s incredibly personal. As someone who’s always played music, I’m regularly called a ‘Music Snob’ by my friends.

Taking that as a positive probably just affirms their stance.

That’s not to say I have disdain per se for certain genres, just as what I listen to is the soundtrack to my life, I prefer to make that soundtrack a winner.

And I’m not alone.

Almost everyone in the world’s influenced by music, every single day.

Whether that’s just ambient pop as you wait for your morning Latte whose name’s fairly similar to yours.

Or you’re one of those people whose outlook on the week is governed by how apt Discover Weekly is on a Monday morning.

I know some recruitment agency owners who shy away from music being played because it lessens the organic ‘buzz’ of the sales floor.

Meaning those in the business are more forthcoming with phone activity.

And recruitment’s very much a job where phone activity will still be a driver for success, but that is changing.

It’s certainly less of a factor now than it was 20 years ago.

In the 90’s you could almost certainly get away without needing music to create the buzz on a ‘sales floor’.

Today, thankfully, a Recruitment Agency’s more than a Call Centre. If you’re dialling number after number with little difference to your patter, regardless of who picks up the call, you won’t last long.

But there are more reasons to having music in your office than merely creating noise.

There’s a lot of evidence that music has real and tangible effects on productivity in the workplace.

And in a job as meritocratic as recruitment, productivity should be pretty high up the list of desirable staff traits.

You could spend three hours on the phone every single day, it doesn’t mean it’s meaningful or beneficial.

Music Headphones

If music be the food of productivity…

Recruitment can be stressful. I know, on its own that’s not too insightful a statement.

But given the fact everyone in recruitment knows this, there’s rarely much done to actually abate stress. Yes, there’s a lot of money put aside to have drinks and dinner at expensive restaurants and holidays to far flung destinations. But that’s not really taking care of the day to day.

Music’s one thing that could dramatically change that.

“Work-related stress is related to ill-health” (Donald et al., 2005; Smith, 2001) and stress in the workplace reduces productivity.

So, having music playing could mean there’s less stress, which means higher productivity.

And just in case it’s not obvious, that means more work done, which equals more money.

‘Money’ is probably how most agency owners evaluate their success. Ultimately, the money made, as a profit for that year.

To put into perspective how much this has been ignored in the past, in 2005 Mind estimated depression and anxiety, costs the British economy £100bn a year.

That was fourteen years ago.

For some, music as a backdrop is an absolute necessity to their working week.

Like Handle Recruitment who recruit into the industry too. 

Shamal from Handle: “We play a variety of music every day in the office. The positive effects we gain are numerous. It noticeably increases productivity, creativity and focus but also means there’s a constant buzz, even at times where it’s a little quiet. I couldn’t imagine working in an office where music isn’t playing.”

Benefits Vs Negatives

Like with many studies with lots of variables, the evidence that music is beneficial to an entire workforce is directly related to the context in which its used.

For example, if you take headphones and personal music into account, the escape it can offer in a busy office is well documented.

It’s a personal getaway which will shut you away from distractions.

You might suggest in a recruitment office, wearing headphones simply isn’t possible. You won’t hear the phone ring and will be unavailable to the rest of the team.

But maybe that’s the point?

You don’t need to be listening to everything that goes on in your office. If you’re doing something creative like writing a job ad, shutting out noise is definitely a positive.

It’s about finding a happy medium.

If music’s playing through speakers in the ceiling for example, that’s fairly unavoidable as a background noise. And as long as that’s no more than low noise, that’s a positive influence.

This research paper suggests however that as the volume of that noise increases, creativity and productivity decreases.

One negative that’s widely reported in these studies is where music is oppressive on the individual.

Personally, I can understand this. Music I don’t like has a negative affect on both my ability to concentrate and my enjoyment of a situation.

Thankfully, there’s more choice of music available now than there ever has been. 

This study, found Surgeons have a tendency to work more accurately while listening to music they liked.

But perhaps more intriguing was the fact, second to that option was listening to music they didn’t like. Not having anything to listen to was the worst option.

If there’s a Recruitment boss out there who’d like to suggest their staff need more concentration or critical thinking than a Surgeon, please get in touch. I’m always up for a laugh.


Happy Medium

So, some music can be oppressive. That’s definitely true. In fact just the thought of listening to Simply Red makes me feel nauseous. Just writing that’s made me need a lie down.

But in the right quantity and the right channels, music could be something which unlocks higher productivity in yourself and your team.

The science behind that’s pretty clear.

And luckily, because you’re not a Plasterer carrying a hand-held stereo, you’ve got options.

You could, for example, get an office Spotify account and give everyone a certain number of choices each day. That way, everyone’s appeased.

You might take the Handle Recruitment approach and give ‘Office DJ’ responsibilities to a few people internally.

With great power comes great responsibility however so make sure you choose wisely.

Maybe you ask the newest person to choose for the day they join? You’ll find out a lot about that person by their taste in music. For better or worse.

And if you still need inspiration, sign up to the weekly email from Hunted where I suggest Music to Recruit to.

I promise there’s no Simply Red anywhere near it and maybe some music you’ve never heard of.

With research highlighting the benefits, I firmly believe there’s a lot to be gained by making your day more influenced by music.

Give it a try and you won’t go back.

And if you need further inspiration for higher productivity for you and your colleagues, click here.