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Ian Ferguson: Striking The Right Note For Working Harmony

MUSIC is said to be the universal language. Bars, notes, chords, rhythms and beats somehow have the ability to transport us into another world and emotional state of being. It influences the way we communicate, and most understand its immense power in causing people the world over to pay attention, receiving messages encrypted in each note and bar.

Church communities, family gatherings, political rallies and fund-raising events have all been blessed with music and singing, but little discussion is had about music as an aid to industry and business. In fact, popular thought places music and singing high on the list of distractions in productive work environments. Our dialogue today counters that prevailing thought, and presents the benefits and advantages of music at work.

From the days of the Transatlantic slave trade, workers have been humming tunes as they go about their laborious tasks. Little has changed today as hotel housekeepers, waiters, construction workers and employees from many professions all seem to have a melody in their heart, rendering those lines to all who will hear.

Employees in many work environments have their personal playlist saved to their phones, ipads or radios stashed underneath their desks, which they use to plug into the latest tracks. Some workplaces celebrate, boldly and proudly, their appreciation for music at work by sharing playlists through company-operated speaker systems for guests and employees to enjoy.

Whether deliberate or concealed, music has a useful place in our corporate environment. Here is a short list of the benefits:

  1. Sacred scripture bears the truth, indicating that music has the ability to make a merry heart and drive away evil spirits and thoughts. Those singing and humming around the workplace are usually the happy and content employees, who want to remain in a pleasant frame of mind.

  2. Music and singing somehow have the ability to make the workload seem lighter, and the day go by more quickly. Even domestic engineers, singing the songs as they wash dishes and complete their daily chores, find this statement to be true.

  3. Music has the ability to alter the mood in both a positive and negative direction. The right music creates a relaxed workplace atmosphere where productivity can thrive, and employees feel comfortable to work efficiently.

  4. Activities at work involving music and singing provide an outlet for employees to display their talents and abilities. These social outlets allow the employees to be viewed in a different light, and enable them to feel as if they have something to offer; if only in social settings.

  5. Many employees find that music gives them something else to think about and avoid boredom. It provides a diversion, and prevents workers from engaging in other distracting behaviours.

In this way, music is a strategy to manage internal interruptions, such as day dreams or thoughts that could lead to a loss of workflow. This, in turn, could lead to the employee starting to do something else less productive, such as fiddling with papers, browsing the Internet, finding a colleague to chat to, sending e-mails and so on).

Music has many positive functions at work, and these can counteract common stress triggers. Viewed from this perspective, managers should conceptualise music at work as more than simply a leisure activity. For listening to music at work can ultimately help companies with their bottom-line results.

• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.

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