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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Thomas

Music Therapy for the Corporate World

Music therapy and the corporate world may seem like two things that should not exist in the same space, but this would be underestimating the flexibility and applicability of music therapy. So far on this blog, we've discussed various conditions and areas of the medical and mental health fields and how music therapy can be helpful there. But what we haven't talked about is how music therapy can be helpful in your everyday life. There still seems to be a stigma that exists around therapy - that if you go to therapy you must have something wrong, or I even hear people say things like 'therapy is only for crazy people'. Obviously, this is wildly inaccurate, and we are gradually starting to see people value mental health on the same level as physical health, but unfortunately there is still a way to go in this area. In its essence, going to therapy is the same as going to your GP for a check up, yet there is no shame around that. Some people need to visit their doctor more frequently than others, and this is still a very acceptable part of life. So why is going to a therapist to take care of your mental health any different? Here at Thrive, we believe therapy is for everyone, and we'll be discussing music therapy and mental health and how it can be useful for you personally in the November blog post.

So why am I talking about it in this post? In this blog post, we're talking about how music therapy can be helpful in the corporate world, and a large focus for this kind of work is mental health. Work can be a very stressful part of our lives, and overworking and workplace burnout are becoming increasingly common. Not only is this incredibly detrimental to the affected employee, but it can also have a very negative effect on the company too. When employees are struggling with workplace related mental health issues or burnout, they naturally become less efficient, less satisfied with their work and less inclined to put their best foot forward in the workplace. According to recent reports, up to 46% of Australians are feeling burnt out, which is nearly half of the working population! That's 46% of employees that are not working to their potential and are far less efficient than their contented counterparts.

Additionally, unhappy and stressed out employees do not make for a very positive working environment. These issues in the workplace can often be overlooked or chalked up to employees being 'ungrateful' or 'lazy', which couldn't be further from the truth. When companies place importance on their employees wellbeing over their own profits, it has shown again and again to not only create more positive working environments, but to increase efficiency and profits as well. So really, its' a win-win. Ariana Huffington - the founder of the Huffington Post - wrote a book about burnout and workplace related stress called "Thrive" - fitting, I know! In her well-named book, she says "There is growing evidence that the long-term health of a company's bottom line and the health of its employees are, in fact, very much aligned, and that when we treat them as separate, we pay a heavy price, both personally and collectively. Individually, we compromise our health and happiness. For businesses, the costs will be exacted in dollars and cents, talent retention, and diminished productivity. But the reverse is also true - what's good for us as individuals is also good for businesses and for countries."

Clearly, workplace stress and burnout are a huge issue in the corporate world these days, especially during and post-pandemic. Prioritising employee wellbeing has shown to increase employee satisfaction as well as company efficiency and profits. So how can companies achieve a mental-health friendly workplace? There are many ways to go about this, and today we'll talk about how and why music therapy can be helpful in this space.

How can music therapy help in the corporate workplace?

There are many reasons why music therapy is helpful for workplace dynamics, and many reasons why it is something companies should consider for their employees. Music therapy can assist people with daily stress relief, can create a positive working environment, can foster team building, can create deeper relationships between people, can increase trust and empathy in the workplace and increase confidence and morale in employees.

Music therapy to relieve workplace stress

In previous posts, we've talked about how music therapy can help lower stress levels and decrease anxiety, and this is applicable both in individual employees' lives as well as in the workplace. Music therapy is proven to have the following effects that can help decrease stress:

  • Reduces heart rate

  • Reduces breathing rate

  • Lowers cortisol levels in the body

  • Switches off the body's fight-or-flight mode

  • Encourages emotional expression

  • Allows participants to connect to their bodies and feelings

  • Increases mindfulness

These effects can all be seen from even short amounts of musical engagement, from actually playing an instrument to just listening to music in the background. The steady rhythms and predictable structure of music, combined with the emotive nature of music and the soothing effect that music has is what drives these physiological changes to occur. Using music in the workplace in this way can help to foster a more positive working environment, as well as increasing positive employee relationships. However, choosing the right type of music is important, as some music will be more mentally arousing and engaging than others, and these different effects will be more or less appropriate depending on the aim of music therapy. For example, soft, instrumental music will be more appropriate as background music to help people focus, and upbeat, driving rhythms may be more helpful to increase efficiency in other workplaces. These are decisions best left to a music therapist who had been educated about the specific effects of music, as there are many factors involved in how music will affect employees.

Music as a team builder

Music can be used to create a sense of community. In many workplaces this is important, as as strong team can improve productivity, workplace environment and can increase trust and self confidence. Creating music, especially in front of others, can be a very vulnerable and scary thing even for an accomplished musician, let alone someone who's never picked up an instrument before in their lives. However, if a group of individuals are able to create music together in a supportive and encouraging environment, it can create strong bonds between the group members, as well as fostering individual self-confidence. This is why group music therapy workshops can be so helpful for improving workplace dynamics, as well as improving the mental health of individual employees.

Music can also be used as method for creating a sense of belonging at the workplace. If you work in an office environment where people don't really talk with each other outside their department or team, then using music as an icebreaker can help break down some barriers so it's easier for people from different departments to interact with each other and get things done successfully through collaboration. When teamwork is approached through a medium of music creation, it can really highlight the natural traits of people in the workplace in a way that is more easily acknowledged and improved on by individuals, which can help to create a sense of inclusion and acceptance between employees, which could lead to a greater sense of teamwork and belonging in the workplace.

Music as a way to build trust

In order to understand the importance of trust in any team, we need to look at how it can affect a business and its employees. As a manager, you want your team to feel that they can be open with you about any issues that arise at work. This is especially true if you're working on a project together or if there are problems with another co-worker that need resolving. You also want them to feel comfortable enough with each other so that they don't have any issues relating professionally outside of work. So how do we build trust among co-workers? Well, it all starts with communication—but communication isn't always easy when everyone has different ideas about what is being said or heard by their peers. Trust between teammates often comes from shared experiences and conversations over time—but music offers an alternative way for people who don't communicate well verbally (or those who aren't particularly comfortable speaking up)to get their messages across. Musical expression in group situations can act as a musical conversation, giving people the opportunity to express themselves and their feelings through the music, rather than having to directly speak about it. This is an excellent way to build trust and create a safe space for people to express their feelings and be heard.

The corporate world is changing, and as it does so, we need to be thinking about how we can create a positive working environment and work-life balance so that employees can avoid burnout and take care of themselves, which will will benefit companies as well. There are many reasons why music can be used in the workplace, but it's important to remember that this isn't just about making a space more enjoyable or relaxing. Music can actually improve productivity levels, reduce stress and anxiety, build trust between colleagues and increase empathy between employees - all things which will make your business run more smoothly. Thrive is now offering corporate workshops and if you believe music therapy could benefit your business, feel free to get in touch to book your workshop in today! We can't wait to see you - and your business - thrive!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next month!


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