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Managers go through a lot of strategies to try and make their teams work better together. Whether it’s team building activities, meetings, or retreats, managers jump through a lot of hoops trying to make their employees more cooperative.

But there may be a simple way to make employees work better together. And it may just involve using upbeat office music.

Upbeat Office Music Influences on Cooperative Behavior

A study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that people, “were more cooperative (and less self-interested) in a group setting when they were listening to happy music.”

As reported by the Harvard Business Review, “happy music produced a positive effect” on teams. After listening to upbeat office music, teams were more likely to cooperate and work for the greater good of the group.

Researchers came to this conclusion by conducting an experiment with two groups.

Group One listened to songs with warmth and rhythm. Samples from that groups included:

  • “Walking on Sunshine,” by Katrina and The Waves
  • “Happy Days,” by Pratt and McClain
  • “Yellow Submarine,” by The Beatles
  • “Brown-Eyed Girl,” by Van Morrison

Group Two listened to songs that were the complete opposite. These songs, often referred to as a genre of “scremo,” featured arrhythmic song structures and screamed lyrics. Examples of those songs included:

  • “Smokahontas,” by Attack Attack!
  • “You Ain’t No Family,” by iwrestledabearonce

After the groups listened to the office music, each member of the group (which consisted of ten people) were given ten tokens. They were then given a choice: keep all of the tokens or deposit some of the tokens to a team fund.

They were told that if they deposited the tokens to the team fun, the researchers would multiply their contributions by one and a half. This option offered more public good and showed a higher level of cooperation.

The other option was more selfish. Participants could look after their self-interest and keep all of the tokens, while still collecting from the redistribution of tokens given to the group by individuals.  

Researchers found that the people who listened to the positive, upbeat office music were more likely to share their tokens with the group. They were more cooperative.

To further test this scenario, researchers conducted another experiment. They added a third group that didn’t listen to music at all.

They found that the group who didn’t listen to music and the group who listened to the “screamo” were both as likely to not share.

The results showed that upbeat office music was the key to inciting more cooperation in the groups.

Encourage Cooperation Through Your Office Music Choices

So, what does this study mean for professional offices and teams?

While many businesses consider their overhead music as it pertains to customer interests, the researchers suggest that managers should also pay close attention to the music in their employee-facing workspaces.

Researcher Kevin Kniffin wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “managers should be more attentive to the effects that sound may have on their employees, not just their customers.”

“To increase cooperation, teams could regularly play happy music during meetings or brainstorming sessions, a simpler and cost-effective alternative to traditional team-building exercises and off-site retreats,” Kniffin went on.

Mindfully selecting positive, upbeat office music can have a real impact on employees. So review the overhead music in your office or workspaces to see how you can incorporate more upbeat and happy playlists.  

We’ve already seen the negative impact that repeated or annoying overhead music can have on employees and the positive impact that music can have for patients in hospitals.

And now, there is even more proof that music has a direct impact on the performance of employees and staff.

Ready To Change the Sounds and Attitudes Within Your Business?

To learn more about the impact that overhead music has on visitors, from customers and clients to employees and staff, check out our guide: Are You Playing the Right Background or Overhead Music at Your Commercial Location?

Or schedule a time to talk to one of our overhead music specialists who can help you set up a sound system that will please customers and employees while boosting morale, cooperation, and productivity.