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Listening to music while working improves job satisfaction and productivity, survey says

According to a recent Spherion Workplace Snapshot survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, almost one-third (32 percent) of workers listen to music while working using an iPod, MP3 player or similar personal music device. Of those, 79 percent feel that doing so improves their job satisfaction and/or productivity. The survey also found that 10 percent of adults who use personal music devices while working spend more than 50 percent of their time tuned in.

The percentage of workers who feel that listening to a personal music device improves their job satisfaction and/or productivity is highest among younger adults, with 90 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 and 89 percent of those aged 30 to 39 making this claim. In addition, of adult workers who listen to a personal music device while working, 55 percent feel it improves both job satisfaction and productivity.

"Like many other new technologies that have seeped into the workplace, such as cell phones, Blackberries and instant messaging, personal music devices do have the potential to negatively impact performance and security in the workplace. This may be especially true in certain higher-risk jobs where the ability to hear clearly is paramount," says Halverson. "Yet our survey has uncovered a compelling argument that allowing workers to listen to music while they work could pay dividends in the form of higher job satisfaction and productivity."

The key, according to Halverson, is for employers to set ground rules for workers to avoid distractions or communication breakdowns. This can include asking workers to keep low volume levels, identifying designated areas where listening is acceptable and implementing policies governing the downloading of music and other files using company computers. Without guidelines, employers could see an increase in safety risks due to employees missing fire alarms or alerts from colleagues, and diminished customer service because employees don't hear the phone or coworkers have difficulty getting their attention.

For additional information on this and other HR topics, consult CCH Human Resources Management or Personnel Practices/Communications.

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