Article (April-2020)


The Do Re Mi at Workplace

Yasmin Soni

Designation : -   Research Scholar, School of Management and Labour Studies

Organization : -  Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai


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How does the old axiom go, "Work while you work and play while you play"? Doomed are those days which focused on disintegrating work and leisure. Organisations, which focused on the age-old axiom are extinct like the dinosaurs, nowhere to be seen. In an era where millennials are booming around Spotify, Netflix, social media handles and infinite social content to be explored, it would be a precarious attempt to stick them to their chair with piles of disenchanting work to be finished without any stimulation. Organisations are in a constant attempt to shred away the conventional stimulators, and engage in a more contemporary method. With a less resilient attitude towards change, innovative techniques are being practised to best utilise the available resources.

An innovative technique, ascribing scientific claims to it have been observed to be practised in the organisation. Many organisations are using music to reduce fatigue and boredom of their workers. Though, history accounts for a cordial relation between workplace and music, we don't record much of its traces in present day scenario, still humans always had a fetish for music.

From Beatles to Pink Floyd to AC/DC to Coldplay, our life revolves around music in an aesthetic way. Homo sapiens were comparatively a vociferous species and till this stage of evolution, we have been a contributor. Humans being processed music as early as in their mother's womb (Mannes, 2011), mothers in every known culture sing-song to their infants, making music one of the newborn's first experiences (Trehub, 2003). Music listening precedes reading, television, and movies as a popular recreational activity (Hargreaves & North, 1999). Apart from its pure entertainment value, music is also broadly linked to many desirable outcomes in important aspects of our lives, such as enhanced learning and motivation in school (Boal-Palheiros & Hargreaves, 2001; Seidman, 1981), improved quality and performance in the workplace (Lesiuk, 2005), and even reduced physical pain and other negative symptoms (Hallam, Cross, & Thaut, 2009; Sacks, 2006).

An experiment conducted in a textile and diamond setting proves the beneficial impact of playing music in a workplace setting. Quasi-experiment was conducted in a natural setting, extended for a period of three weeks, it had a concoction of various genre. Interestingly 80% of the workers showed a preference to hear music at the workplace. Quantitative analysis elicits a better reception of music showing an increase in the productivity of workers. However, Music Nostalgia theory says that songs that a person has heard in his teenage is the genre that would extract maximum impact. This study reaffirmed Music Nostalgia theory, Study 1 with an average age of 47 elicits maximum response on the songs of 80s, whereas study 2 with and average age of 23 elicits maximum response on the new age Bollywood songs. This insight proves to be a meaningful one in educating the organisation about the precautions one should take. Organisations that are interested in promoting a musical environment must invest in understanding the demographics of their workforce. Qualitative analysis brought some interesting excerpts from the interviews of the workers. Music was proved to be a catalyst in promoting the feeling of brotherhood and belonginess. Workers considered music to be a better alternative against chatting and ranting sessions with co-workers.

The office life, be it in an organised sector or an unorganised sector is not devoid of the work life hazels. Stress, anxiety, fatigue, mental diversion, negative feelings, performance/productivity slums, all by-products of a work life. Organisation are always in quest of some innovative techniques that can enhance the productivity of the workers, thereby decreasing the stress and fatigue of their employees. Music have been scientifically proved to reduce the stress levels and improve the mood of the listener. Research shows that an enhanced mood can lead to better productivity among employees. Many organisational spaces in India are moving towards an open space concept. The aim is to enhance the positivity and a collaborative work spaces, but the onset of personal space leads to anxiety and mental aversion. Textile and diamond workers had shown their preference to hear music in a general setting where they can share the emotion of the soundtrack. It has been observed that with every change in the soundtrack a look was passed on to the near-by, striking that music is not just heard, but the emotion is shared creating a common experience.

Many organisations have incorporated this practise of playing music during breaks or for some period of the shift. Musical workplace can be a boon to the employees and organisation. A well-planned initiative can bear fruitful results. While planning for a musical setup, organisation must look into few factors, First, they must have a demographic analysis of the workforce. Age matters a lot in terms of the musical influence. Second, certain age group of workforce response better to the instrumental music, so the genre is an important aspect of the setup. Third, playlist must be updated on a regular basis, after a certain amount of listening a soundtrack, it can have its saturation point which might not affect anymore.

A wild plunge into this ocean of possibilities can doomed the organisation in its efforts, whereas a planned one can give the required competitive advantage thereby attracting and retaining the best talent in the market.
Hail Music.