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Shonette Laffy


Deputy Editor

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The office choir: can music revolutionise the boardroom?


Tessa Marchington is the Founder of Music in Offices, an organisation which works with some of the UK’s top employers, using music as a means of engaging and motivating their people. Earlier this month, Music in Offices launched the campaign #RevolutionisetheBoardroom, calling on employers to make music and the arts an integral part of the strategy of corporate culture.

We asked Tessa to tell us a bit more about about the campaign, and why more businesses should be embracing their musical side…

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: Firstly, tell us more about what Music in Offices does.

Tessa Marchington, Music in Offices: We work with businesses including Channel 4, Citi Group, The Telegraph, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright, using music as a management tool and a lens to provide a new perspective for overcoming business challenges.

We set up and manage choirs & instrumental tuition, and deliver bespoke music-based workshops and team building activities.

Shonette Laffy, HRZone:What does #RevolutionisingtheBoardroom mean?

Tessa Marchington, Music in Offices: It’s about encouraging employers to embrace music and the arts from the top down. Driving innovation, creating a more inclusive environment and connecting people through music.

Some businesses are already blazing the trail by putting the arts at the top of their agenda, and have active music societies like Linklaters or Macquarie. Norton Rose even have their own dedicated music room. We just need more to follow suit!

Shonette Laffy, HRZone:Why is music good for business?

Tessa Marchington, Music in Offices: Feedback from our members demonstrates the powerful role music can have in the workplace, with 100% saying that music at work made them feel happier, more motivated and more positive about working for their employer. What other employee engagement programme could make such bold claims?

A recent Gallup (2014) survey of revealed some staggering statistics about the state of the UK workforce:

  • 33% of employees are engaged
  • 49% of employees are disengaged and 18% are actively disengaged
  • Engaged employees take 2.69 sick days a year on average
  • Disengaged employees take 6.19 sick days a year on average

The same research stated that companies with low levels of engagement typically experience a 33% annual operating income decline, so the value in being able to engage and motivate employees is huge.

This is something business leaders should be acting on. If it were anything else affecting the bottom line in this way, such as a failing product, it would have been discontinued long ago.

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: How does music in the workplace affect employee engagement and wellbeing?

Tessa Marchington, Music in Offices: Being part of an office choir gives a sense of belonging and identity to individuals and has a really transformative effect on their working life. We set up an office choir at Christie’s which was very popular. Not long after setting it up we were approached by one of its members, Tom, who worked in the post room. He felt he needed to share his experience with us as being part of a choir had such a positive impact on him.

He said: “Before I joined the choir I was just the man in the post room that people passed things to. Now I’m Tom – the key bass in the choir, I have friends at work and people say hello to me when they pass me their parcels.”

His confidence had grown enormously and in the short time that he had been part of the choir he went from keeping himself to himself, to being confident enough to speak to some of the most senior people in the business.

Being part of an office choir gives a sense of belonging and identity to individuals

For Tom, being part of a choir improved his work life, as he was able to do something he enjoyed whilst at work, but most importantly he gained a happier relationship with his colleagues and built up confidence in himself as an individual. We see people like Tom literally transform every day and can’t stress enough the impact singing and music-making at work can have on wellbeing.

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: Can you give an example of where the programme has been particularly well received?

Tessa Marchington, Music in Offices: As part of our campaign, James Bardrick, Citi’s Head in the UK said that ‘We should not underestimate the role that music can play in helping to shape and improve corporate culture.’

We‘ve also delivered successful workshops for Citi as part of their Diversity Week events. The Citi Diversity Team were looking for a leadership team building event which made people think differently and wasn’t laden with the usual management jargon. We created the ‘Lead like the great conductors’ workshop which focused on inclusive leadership and the qualities required to be an effective leader.

The hour-long workshop covered topics such as the power of gesture in inducing responsiveness from team members, ensemble mentality where we explored how the structure of orchestras and choirs can be used as a way of understanding and leading your team.                                           

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What advice can you give to businesses that would like to bring music into their workplace?

Tessa Marchington, Music in Offices: Just set up a choir and invite everyone, you’ll be surprised how many people would be interested! Or if you’re planning an away day, incorporate a musical element. For example, a team building activity could be as simple as separating up a group and each learning different parts to a round and then coming together to create a final performance. It’s a lot of fun and it is the powerful expression of team cohesiveness.

Just set up a choir and invite everyone, you’ll be surprised how many people would be interested!

By being a business that embraces the arts, allowing employees to feel more like people, whether it’s singing in a choir or playing an instrument, is hugely beneficial to the corporate culture and ultimately, the bottom line.

2 Responses

  1. As an HR I know the value of
    As an HR I know the value of music in engaging the people and to encourage them. Recently my office using Setbeat Music app ( to listen to free music. This application is spotify alternative and that too for free. All the tips and tricks mentioned in this post are really cool. Thanks.

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Shonette Laffy

Deputy Editor

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