Singing for a healthy workplace

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humour.
— Brian Eno

It is well known that singing is good for you. From standing in the shower and belting out Beyoncé to harmonising Brahms in your local chamber choir, there are myriad physical and mental benefits. Less well known are what these are exactly, and how they can be harnessed to solve business problems in a modern working environment.

For HR managers looking to employ a reliable, scientifically validated, method for developing a happier, healthier and better-functioning workforce, singing presents such an opportunity. Let’s look at the ways which singing, and specifically an office choir, can improve workplace happiness and contribute to a healthier bottom line for a forward looking company in the 21st century. These are all benefits that we have experienced through many years singing in and leading choirs and ensembles ourselves. Don’t just take our word for it however, we’ve included a list of scientific studies which back up our not-so-outlandish claims!

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Team cohesion

According to a 2002 study (Veblen and Olsson) ‘The workplace choir seems to be a direct and rapid way to unfreeze identities as established hierarchy and relations become temporarily suspended.’ Choirs can feel exposing, and singing often can take people out of their comfort zones.  Whilst many people have been told at some stage or other that they are tone deaf, very few actually are (although singing and musical learning comes to some more naturally than others).

In an office choir the playing field of office dynamics and hierarchy are levelled, suspended, reformed and temporarily reconstructed in an incredibly healthy way. Choirs also offer ‘the ice-breaker effect’: swiftly developing relationships which can be particularly beneficial in large organisations in which the choir is made up across cross departments with otherwise little interaction.

When singing in harmony, just like working together in a team, we are reliant upon those around us, and so swiftly build trusting relationships and bonds. This process also develops a sense of confidence within an individual and strengthens their feeling of worth within a team. Finally, singing increases levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and oxytocin, which are proven to strengthen bonding and trust.

Believe it or not heartbeats between singers actually begin to synchronise when they sing together; what better indication of the cohesive power of song?!

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Physical and mental benefits

When singing one exhales for longer than one inhales, slowing the heart rate and relaxing the body. Furthermore singing actually reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Singing improves circulation, which in turn boosts your immune system and ability to fight illness. Worker absence due to illness totals average 4.3 days per year per employee, but companies with an employee choir have seen absence rates reduced by as much as 50%.

Singing has been shown to ward off age-related decline by continuously exercising the brain. It also improves memory by creating new neural pathways and improving brain meta-plasticity. Music can even make you a better linguist, and people who sing are proven to be happier!

Across a plethora of devices and platforms we are bombarded on a daily basis with messages and information. Singing  presents both physical and mental challenges, and as such requires a high level of concentration, meaning the singer has to be present in the moment, in a state often compared to meditation. Being able to temporarily switch off from work can provide a very welcome slice of respite in an otherwise hectic day, and allows more space for creative thinking and problem solving.

For those with a vanity streak amongst you, it’s also worth noting that singing will actually make you look younger by increasing blood circulation and oxygen flow, whilst stretching and toning your facial muscles. Need we say more!

 

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Wellbeing in the workplace

The importance of taking care of the mental and physical health of employees, wellbeing, has gained prominence in recent years. This has unsurprisingly coincided with increasingly long working hours and greater workloads, attributed anecdotally by many to being a hangover from financial crash of 2008.

Attracting and retaining top talent is vital to successful organisations, especially within the context of leaner workforces, and so demonstrating a proactive approach to improving employee wellbeing is a key part of being a top employer. Finding and training the right staff can cost businesses anywhere from £5,000 to £30,000 so employee retention is more important than ever.

On:song

Singing provides physical and mental health benefits, improves wellbeing, attendance and morale, all leading to a healthier, happier organisation. On:song runs 12 week choirs for businesses, bringing these benefits to the workplace in a fun, charismatic and musically inspiring way.

For more information and to book a free taster session, get in touch at hello@onsong.co.uk

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28959197 https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_Brief_Sing_along_for_health https://www.gu.se/english/about_the_university/news-calendar/News_detail/?contentId=1176267 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4585277/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632513/ https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/06/singing-to-boost-self-esteem https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28826978 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28826978 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/bcfg-uwp060117.php http://www.health.com/alzheimers/singing-hits-a-high-note-for-folks-with-early-dementia https://www.baudelairesong.org/2015/10/12/music-and-memory-how-singing-could-make-you-a-better-linguist/ 
George BellComment