by Karl Leif Bates
The Detroit News (12/15/95)
Office workers should tune in and turn on, according to a University of Illinois researcher.
Employees who are allowed to wear personal stereo headsets show higher productivity, better attitudes and greater satisfaction with the workplace, says Greg Oldham, a professor of organizational behavior.
And they don’t have to fight over which radio station to play on the public address system.
Oldham gave 75 out of 256 workers at a large retail company the personal stereos to wear at work for four weeks and then measured the results.
Headphone-wearers exhibited a 10-percent jump in productivity and were “less nervous, less fatigued, more enthusiastic and more relaxed at work than the people in the control group,” Oldham said.
“They do seem to be more comfortable and relaxed,” said Paul Wilson, a safety specialist for the U.S. Postal Service in Detroit, where headsets are allowed for some workers.
Of course, not everyone can wear stereo headphones at work, Wilson cautions. “They can wear headsets as long as they’re not around moving equipment,” he said. “And we tell them not to turn them up too loud. We don’t want them to go deaf.”
Employees who talk on a phone frequently or work in teams also should ditch the diversion. “Most of our people have headsets on already, but they’re not listening to music,” noted Ameritech spokesman Jonathan James.
Workers in Oldham’s study reported listening to their tunes for an average of 20 hours in a 36-hour workweek and favored oldies and country.