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How Not to Annoy Your Employees with Christmas Music

How Not to Annoy Your Employees with Christmas Music

Written by

James Picken


December 6, 2018



Anyone who has worked in retail is likely to have experienced the sudden escalation of Christmas music in stores from November - or sometimes, earlier - that usually carries on until the new year.

Many operators claim this is a great way to get consumers in a spending mood by lifting spirits and encouraging a festive atmosphere and, if the balance is good, we totally agree.

But despite this, it’s crucial to keep the people closest to your business - your employees - happy, motivated, and not pulling their hair out at the fifth play of ‘All I Want For Christmas’ in one day. After all, you wouldn’t want to hear the same handful of songs on repeat at any other time of year, so why now?

Here are our 4 tips for helping you create a very merry atmosphere in your business this season, without annoying your employees!

1) Introduce it gradually

Remember that people’s tolerances of Christmas music vary, and jumping from 0-100% in a matter of days leaves no time for adjustment. We recommend introducing festive songs at a steady rate, beginning with 3-5 each hour to warm up your team, gradually increasing this in the week leading up to Christmas. This will help to avoid the sudden Christmas music mania that many retail and hospitality workers dread.

2) Establish a balance

Even in the midst of December, it’s crucial to know that Christmas music has its limits. No matter how much you might think ‘more is more’, bombarding your employees with back-to-back Christmas tracks throughout their shifts can cause serious fatigue and frustration. As a general rule, a 60/40 balance of regular to Christmas songs works well for the start of December, with an increase to 70% festive tracks towards the big day usually being acceptable.

3) Schedule for different day parts

Just as with your everyday background music, you should take care to consider what songs are suitable for various day parts and trading patterns. Christmas music can vary hugely in style and the emotions it elicits, so while a slower, somber number might be a nice start for your quiet or early morning periods, something upbeat is likely to motivate your employees more in busier shifts.

4) Mix it up

When it comes to Christmas songs, the oldies tend to be the goodies. But the temptation to rely on the same 10 songs or so to build the festivities will result in overkill. The key here is to spend time prepping your Christmas soundtrack, and don’t be afraid to mix in some lesser-known numbers. While it’s generally advisable to avoid the many cheesy pop blunders of this century, there are some great Christmas covers out there that have less jingling, but more cosy, wintery musical vibes. Having this variety will ensure your team are regularly gifted with something new to listen to.

With every business being different, the ultimate goal should be to achieve something that works with, and enhances, your regular background music schedule - not something that detracts from all your hard work on creating your desired atmosphere! If you can achieve this, the impact on your employees will be a positive one. Whatever your plan for a Christmas soundtrack may be, following these basic tips should give you a great start.

Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe?

How Not to Annoy Your Employees with Christmas Music

James Picken

Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.

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Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe?

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