Should you let employees listen to music or other material on personal devices like iPods and MP3 players?

As with many workplace issues, the answer to that question depends partly on the kind of business you’re in.

But it’s worth noting that surveys have shown employees feel more satisfied and productive while listening to music, recorded books, etc. And with headphones on, they’re less easily distracted.

Letting it play
So if you do decide to let the music play, keep in mind that:

1. It may not work for some jobs. Customer service reps need to hear the phone ringing. Receptionists can’t be saying, “Huh?” to visitors.

2. There may be danger. Listening on headphones may distract workers in hazardous jobs from the task at hand. Also, people may not hear fire alarms.

3. Communication may be stifled. Employees may have difficulty getting their co-workers’ attention.

So, you may want to:

  • Limit the use of players to certain jobs.
  • Delineate “no music” areas where people can’t use their players.
  • Require people to keep the volume down.

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