Music in the Workplace Can Boost Teamwork

A photo of a businessman at his desk rocking out with his headphones in.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A Cornell University study has found that music can be a valuable team building tool. Music is a big part of the retail experience, and is often used to try and influence purchasing habits. But this is the first study to really investigate how it impacts employees.

The summation is that “happy” and upbeat music makes people more inclined to collaborate, while “unpleasant” music doesn’t. It’s not that the unpleasant tunes had a negative impact, they just simply didn’t have a positive impact.

The happy music they chose were staples of soft rock and adult contemporary. Examples include “Walking on Sunshine” and “Yellow Submarine.” The unpleasant music was largely heavy metal from lesser-known groups. However, the mere categorization of heavy metal as “unpleasant” proves that there’s some bias that needs to be worked out over additional research.

For example, while most of society views heavy metal as being negative and unpleasant, people who actually listen to the genre don’t view it that way. In other words, depending on who you have working in your store or office, heavy metal could be more conducive to teamwork. That also leaves the possibility that “happy” music could end up annoying employees who don’t enjoy that genre.

While many people use music as a tool for productivity, this study proves that the genre itself must be chosen carefully. Musical tastes can vary widely between coworkers, and those tastes can sometimes be antithetical to one another. Music is important to people, and it can form the basis of strong friendships and can also cause significant disagreements.

If you’re thinking that pumping some tunes into the workplace might be an effective, cheap, team building tool, you might be right. But you’re going to want to consult with the team before you make any decisions, lest you actually make things worse.


About DevonJ140
I am currently an Accounting Director living in New York City. I love reading and learning more about business, finance, tech, and current events.

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