Adelaide breakfast radio music is hurting South Australian productivity

February 4, 2021
Adelaide breakfast radio music is hurting South Australian productivity - Professor Longsword on Radio Adelaide

I know this headline makes a bold claim but as someone who lives by MBA Thinking I cannot afford to shirk my responsibility to speak the truth.

There are many sources of self-help information and pop-culture leaders who preach that happy workplaces are healthy.

Oh, how I wish that were true.

But, alas, the data is in and when the workplace mood is high, productivity is low.

And given that many workers listen to Adelaide breakfast radio on the way to work, happy, boppy songs are just driving a wedge between worker productivity and state productivity.

One would hope that Premier Steven Marshall (who also has an MBA) would be on top of this.

I note that my mind has been prompted to contemplate this issue because, at the time of writing, I will be on Radio Adelaide‘s breakfast program in the morning where I will deliver this message personally.

Happiness at work spells doom for any business

Before you shoot the messenger and dismiss me as a tyrant, please consider this research.

In the 2019 paper, Effect of Mood on Workplace Productivity, by Decio Coviello, Erika Deserranno, Nicola Persico, and Paola Sapienza, it was found that:

Better mood actually decreases … workers’ productivity.

According to the researchers, “improving workplace mood may make “work downtime” more appealing, at the expense of productivity.”

This is not what Oprah would say, or any of the other pop culture gurus so although it is hard to take this medicine, take it we must to cure the disease of workers fiddling while their jobs burn.

However, as an MBA (you’ll learn this when you come to A Lunchtime MBA throughout the 2021 Adelaide Fringe season) you learn to balance unusual findings with a pinch of salt and a little grinding of pepper.

Nicolas Despiégel, Natalya Danchenko, Clément François, Benedikte Lensberg, and Michael F.Drummond, in the paper, The Use and Performance of Productivity Scales to Evaluate Presenteeism in Mood Disorders, have found that if workers are too depressed, they might stay at work an not be productive in a condition knowing as Presenteeism.

With Presenteeism, workers are at work but too depressed to be productive, opting to “stay at work and perform suboptimally rather than take sick leave.”

This presents us with a dilemma. We need to keep our workers not too happy and not too sad.

At the office, I achieve this by starting the day with our faculty prayer, which has been adapted from the Anglican Church’s 1662 Book Of Common Prayer, something I remember reciting every morning while growing up in Oxfordshire.

Back then, these prayers anchored my disposition to be suitably tepid, and therefore we all kneel as one on the King William Street footpath and recite the following together, welcoming passers-by to join us:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Economy, We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, We have followed too much the electronic devices and social desires of our own hearts, We have offended against thy noble laws, We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, And we have done those things which we ought not to have done, And there is no health in us: But thou, O Provider Of Employment, have mercy upon us miserable workers; Spare thou them, O Economy, which confess their faults, Restore thou them that are penitent, According to thy promises declared unto the electorate by Steven Marshall our Premier: And grant, O most merciful Capitalist State, for Steven’s sake, That we may hereafter live a productive, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of South Australia. Amen.

It really dulls the senses and ensures we are all glad to be able to get back to work.

But we might not need measures like these, if breakfast radio played its part.

Time for more MBA Thinking

My plea to Adelaide breakfast radio producers is to tone down their music in both style and message, so that the good workers of the state are not too distracted towards the euphoric happy end of the scale.

This means songs like WAP, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, and Dance Monkey are out.

We also need to avoid songs that are too morbid.

Therefore, songs like Modern Loneliness, Everybody Hurts, and anything by Bob Dylan or Justin Bieber are out.

This leaves us with those carefully crafted songs that give us just enough melody to hook us, and just enough pathos in the lyrics to intrigue us.

A perfect candidate is Green Day‘s, Wake Me Up When September Ends.

If you can’t remember it, listen now.

Note how the lyrics refer to “here comes the rain again”? This is a sign of hope, counterbalancing the lyrics, “drenched in my pain again”.

Playing music like this will ensure workers can head to work with only one thing on their mind:

  • How to be present
  • And how to be productive

Whoops, that’s two things, most likely due to listening to that Green Day song which is further proof of the theory.

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