In the Suburbs / Ho! Ho! Help retail employees — we’re bombarded ny holiday music
Ho! Ho! Help! Retail employees like me are bombarded by tons of Christmas music from before Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. And as much as this little Jewish kid loves Christmas and Christmas music, I’m already drained by the multiple versions of songs like “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” and “I’ll be home for Christmas,” along with other traditional melodies crooned by so many of my favorite artists.
I remember joking with two colleagues on the Monday after Thanksgiving that I was already drained from the music and there was still a month before Christmas. “Yeah!” one of them said with a chuckle. “And if I hear another maudlin version of ‘I’ll be home for Christmas,’ I’ll scream!”
We both laughed raucously, but we collectively agreed that we’re trapped in our big-box bookstore in Fairfield for four or five shifts and the music just keeps on playing.
To be honest, I have rarely paid attention to this holiday music situation during the past five-and-a-half years I’ve been working at the bookstore. I’ve just accepted that it begins just before or after Turkey Day; it’s the first thing that goes on with the lights in the store and one of the last things off, along with the lights on the Christmas trees.
Of course, I won’t lie. My favorite song is Mariah Carey’s version of “All I Want for Christmas is You” and I have found myself kind of dancing in to the melody at my desk in the store. It grabs me like few other songs for the holiday do. …
Until recently, I thought I was a minority on the issue of too much holiday music, but this past week I saw in a few newspapers the results of a survey completed by Soundtrack Your Brand, a streaming service for background music in retail stores, which is partly owned by Spotify. Researchers interviewed more than 2,000 retail employees and shoppers in the United States and the United Kingdom.
They learned that about 25 percent of American workers “say their holiday spirit is dying because they have to listen to Christmas songs all day —with some saying it’s damaging their emotional well-being.”
A supermarket worker interviewed by Lorna Collier, a writer for Bizwoman, said, “At Christmas, we get the same three CDs over and over for the full nine-hour shift.” The worker called it “Torture! I’m sure there’s a human rights cruelty issue here.”
A music psychologist, Anneli Haake, said, “Having to listen to imposed music — without any control over it — can be detrimental to employees. This can leave workers irritated and stressed.”
Collier made some suggestions.
Ease up on the overload.
Retailers from Starbucks to H&M have been lessening the amount of holiday music in their mix lately, “largely in response to the love-it-or-hate-it relationship most people have with seasonal tunes,” reports the San Diego Tribune. Stores are cutting back to a mix of 25 to 50 percent holiday music, rather than 75 to 100 percent as in years past.
Consider going lyric-free.
A recent study by Taiwanese researchers found lyrics in music were distracting. Instrumental music proved better for concentration.
Stick to the classics
Familiar music is also good for tasks requiring concentration, said one writer for Fast Company Magazine. When people know the words and music that are coming, the music becomes part of the background and they can focus better on their work.
Be culturally sensitive.
Religion is an element of many holiday songs. If your workplace includes people of differing faiths — or no faith — take care when choosing a holiday playlist. Employer Law Report suggests employers avoid overly religious Christmas carols.
Meanwhile, the musical nightmare ends in just a few days, probably to be replaced by all the popular music of 2017. Will it ever end?
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.