millennials

Music while you work

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Millennials are re-creating the war-time experiences of having music played in factories by bringing music into offices.

Last year PRS for Music, the music licensing organisation which collects royalties for musicians, granted 27,000 licences for offices to play recorded music, up almost 10% on the previous year.

And that’s good news for musicians who must be heartily sick of being ripped off by young people ripping tracks from web-sites in the belief that they are “entitled” to free music.

Whether or not music does help productivity is open to debate. Certainly the government thought it did during WWII when they promoted “Music While You Work“.

The American company Musak actually patented a “Stimulus Progression” system to keep factory workers focussed by varying the intensity of the music in 15 minute chunks; something I have posted about elsewhere

Many factories have scrapped music on health & safety grounds i.e. workers getting distracted, but the opposite seems to apply particularly in the creative and digital world.

So in addition to play areas and relaxed dress codes staff can bring their own favourite tracks to work in any genre from hip-hop to metal. Managers can also pick “office playlists” from streaming services like Spotify but heaven help you if you have a David Brent-type manager. (Even my local barber’s shop uses Spotify but he gets instant feedback on his choice of music!).

The ability to control the playlists is obviously popular with staff until some people hi-jack the lists which leads to playlist rage.

A marketing agency in London found that eight out of ten people wanted music in the workplace. Some people had reservations about having music on when they were on the phone, some conceded it might be OK on a Friday (typically a more relaxed day for dress codes too).

Songs that appear to have met with universal approval include: “Where are Ü” by Jack Ü and Justin Bieber and “Little Bit of Luck” byDJ Luck and MC Neat (Is it just me but isn’t it strange that the songs have the artist’s name in the song titles or are people blind to narcissism). To me these tracks are repetitive and just mind-numbing. Is that the idea?

Research conducted by PRS for Music and PPL ( a royalty collection group) found 88% of participants performed better on office tasks with music with improvements in speed, accuracy and productivity – and people were happier!

However other research suggest that even bland instrumental music can hinder performance on more cognitive complex tasks which are best done in silence.

So it’s not straightforward.

Responses depend on a number of things: the person’s personality, the complexity of the task, and the music chosen.

The answer might be for the person to wear headphones when they want to listen to music of their choice which would also drown out other distracting noises.

Millennials earning less than their fathers

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relaxing_cash_1600_wht_7397Recent research has shown that by the time millennial men reach 30 they are earning about £1,500 a year less than their fathers were. The same doesn’t apply to women.

The Resolution Foundation think tank has warned the government that they must respond to the pent-up frustration of this generation which earned less than Generation Xers (born 1960-80).

The long-held belief that each generation should do better than the last is under threat. Millennials today are the first to earn less than their predecessors“.

It’s not so surprising when you think about. Although the think tank blames the shift to higher skilled roles that’s not the only factor at work.

Globalisation has meant many jobs are off-shored or contracted out to low-cost countries, structural change and the reduction in traditional male jobs in manufacturing, mining, and steel, better educated women competing in the job market, and of course increased automation – of which there is more to come.

Another factor has been the loss of middle management jobs through de-layering thereby reducing opportunities for promotion, exacerbated by older workers staying at work longer, either to eke out their pensions or to keep themselves active. again slowing down job progression.

So it is what it is. Damian Green, the work and pensions minister told Age UK that a generational war was futile. Everyone gets old some day and “ultimately you don’t help young people by impoverishing older people”.

Maybe we just have to recalibrate our thinking and modify our expectations.