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Singing is the best team-building exercise, study shows

A group of people sing karaoke at a bar (Thinkstock)
A group of people sing karaoke at a bar (Thinkstock)

It’s time to bust out your best Aretha with Jim from accounting, if your take the findings of a new study to heart.

As it turns out, singing with your colleagues at work may allow you to bond with them faster and more effectively in comparison to doing many of the other ice breaker-type activities. That’s according to a new study published in the University of Oxford’s academic journal Open Science.

The study worked with adult education classes over a period of seven months, forming groups that would participate in singing as a social bonding activity and measuring them against groups that would use other ways of bonding, such as creative writing or arts and crafts. Their endorphin levels were measured using a standardized proxy and the data revealed that while participants could reach a similar outcome in their level of bonding over an extended period of time, the biggest difference was noticeable after just one month.

For those of you who want your coworkers and employees to bond early and often, start with singing. It doesn’t mean you have to sit around in a circle during lunchtime to the sound of an acoustic guitar – even going out for a karaoke night can work well. No matter how you choose to organize the singing, the bottom line is that singing allows people to let their guard down, usually in a fun-filled, relaxed environment. Overall, the study maintains that feelings of affiliation and doing something in sync with others is what matters. That means you don’t necessarily have to pick a specific genre of music in order to effectively team-build using singing, but it goes without saying that picking a popular song most people know the words to would probably be beneficial.

Singing is also better than other activities from a practical standpoint. All a team really needs to engage in singing a song is to know the words. Other types of teambuilding activities might involve changing physical locations, like going on a retreat, setting up equipment, like running through an obstacle course, or just generally doing things that would be hard to do in the office, logistically-speaking. Singing is also something most people will at least attempt to do, even if only quietly.

While any number of teambuilding activities can bring people closer together over time, these results suggest your office manager should consider getting the tunes going or planning a karaoke night. It could be a catalyst that allows for more group bonding, which at the end of the day is what makes co-workers want to push each other and succeed in the workplace, and should make companies more productive and profitable as a whole. And at the end of the day isn’t that what business is all about? Singing all the way to the bank?