Music in the workplace

Music To My Ears

Another update from the Jungle…

espressoMae owns several coffee shops and has plans to add several more locations over the next year or two. She paid her way through college working in chain coffee shops. After graduation, she decided to stay in the city where she went to college rather than returning to her po-dunk hometown.


coffe shop

Mae found it much easier to create a business plan, obtain financing, and buy good coffee (and tea) than to deal with employees. In her early days, when she was desperate to keep the doors open, she hired several people who otherwise would never have gotten jobs.


She can handle tattoos, piercings, black leather and motorcycle boots. She can even live with the shaved heads and the orange or purple hair of some of her employees. After all, it’s a college town and she wants her coffee shops to be unique and cool.

coffe sign

Most of the customers are college kids or recent college graduates. They don’t care if the chairs are uncomfortable and the tables are rickety as long as the WiFi works and the espresso continues to flow. But Mae needs to attract more than just college kids who live on dark roast. She needs business people with actual disposable income who will buy overpriced muffins to eat while slurping their coffee.


With such a mixed group, it’s difficult to select background music. Her employees want to play rap or hip hop to attract the college crowd. Mae prefers easy listening to entice the business crowd. Her unwritten rule is that the music must be in the background, like white noise. But when she’s not around, her employees crank up the volume, driving away the business crowd.

This morning Mae stopped by her second shop location. As she opened the door a wall of sound hit her, blowing her hair back from its carefully arranged coiffure. Mae struggled up to the counter and screamed at her manager to “turn it down!” Her ears ringing, Mae walked into the cramped office and slumped in the uncomfortable chair behind the desk. She opened the music-sharing file on her smart phone and keyed up some Mozart. Then she thought about what she should do about the music.

What should Mae do next?

1. She can fire her manager for playing the music too loud, but that means hiring and training a replacement.
2. She can ban music in her coffee shops.
3. She can tweak her HR policies to more clearly define the volume that is appropriate for her shops and the consequences of violating the rules.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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