Using music to engage employees | S5 E12

First published: 21 May, 2024

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Engaging Internal Comms Series 5
Engaging Internal Comms Series 5
Using music to engage employees | S5 E12

Harnessing the Power of Music in the Workplace: Insights from Sam McNeill

In this episode, we delve into the fascinating world of music in the workplace and its transformative impact on team building and organisational culture. I recently had the pleasure of hosting a very special guest, Sam McNeill, who is not only a maestro in using music to forge stronger teams but also the director of SongDivision. In this post, I’ll share the key insights and memorable moments from our conversation, which I’m sure will resonate with anyone looking to enhance their workplace environment.

The Symphony of Strategy and Team Building

Sam McNeill is a virtuoso when it comes to integrating music into the corporate sphere. His expertise lies in crafting experiences that not only entertain but also solidify the bonds between colleagues and align them with their company’s strategic goals. SongDivision, under Sam’s direction, has become a beacon for organisations seeking innovative ways to engage their employees.

During our chat, we explored the profound effects of music on the human brain. It’s not just about the feel-good factor; music has the power to boost memory, spark creativity, and alleviate stress. These benefits are invaluable in a workplace setting, where fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity is paramount.

A Universal Language That Unites

One of the most compelling aspects of music in the workplace is its inclusive nature. It transcends backgrounds and hierarchies within a company, bringing everyone together in a shared experience. Sam recounted an extraordinary event for Virgin Australia, where 1500 employees contributed four-line poems about their work life. These snippets of personal reflection were then woven into a surprise song performance for none other than Richard Branson himself. It’s moments like these that underscore music’s ability to create a cohesive and vibrant company culture.

The Resonance of Real Experiences

Sam shared an anecdote that perfectly illustrates the power of interactive musical experiences. At a particular event, a famous artist mingled with the crowd, even crowd surfing, while performing a song with lyrics contributed by the audience. This not only created an electrifying atmosphere but also left a lasting impression on everyone involved. It’s clear that music can be a potent tool for creating unforgettable moments that resonate on a personal level.

Learning from the Off-Beat Moments

Not every attempt at harmonizing music with team-building hits the right note. Sam opened up about instances where certain approaches fell flat. For example, rewriting lyrics to famous songs didn’t quite strike a chord with participants, leaving them feeling disengaged. Another team-building activity missed the mark with its audience, providing a valuable lesson for Sam and his team. These experiences highlight the importance of understanding your audience and tailoring musical interventions to suit their tastes and expectations.

The Challenges of a Dispersed Orchestra

In our current climate, with remote work becoming more prevalent, maintaining connectivity among team members is more challenging than ever. Sam emphasised the need for organisations to keep their staff motivated and aligned, especially during economic uncertainties and significant changes. Investing in meaningful experiences that contribute to the well-being and connectivity of teams is crucial in this context.

A Crescendo of Innovation

Our conversation concluded with an exciting announcement about SongDivision’s upcoming participation in the Institute of Internal Communications festival. This event promises to showcase their cutting-edge approach to using music as a vehicle for engagement and connection within organizations.

The Final Note

As we wrapped up our podcast episode, I couldn’t help but feel invigorated by Sam’s energy and enthusiasm. His dedication to his craft is truly inspiring, and I’m already looking forward to the possibility of having him back on the show, perhaps with a guitar in hand to compose a song live on air! Music in the workplace has an undeniable power to unite and inspire, and it’s clear that when harnessed correctly, it can play a pivotal role in building stronger, more connected teams.

Thank you for tuning in, and here’s to finding your organisation’s rhythm!

Guest profile

Sam MacNeill was voted as a Top Five Speaker in Spice Magazine’s Hot 100, and one of Eventex’ 100 Most Influential People in the Events Industry’, Sam McNeill is one of the most globally in-demand Corporate MC’s & Facilitators. Sam has hosted over 700 in-person, virtual and hybrid experiences including musical team building workshops, gala awards events and product launches on four continents.

Sam’s accolades include winning ‘Future Leader’ awards for both Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), as well as being included in Connect Corporate’s esteemed list of ’40 under 40’ industry professionals. Most recently Sam was the recipient of the Prestigious ’David Hackett’ award presented by Meeting Needs, for services to Charity within the events industry. Sam’s professionalism and energy has made him a favourite among some of the biggest brands in the world including Coca- Cola, Microsoft, SAP, Roche, and BP. However, Sam’s greatest professional moment was performing at a Virgin Airlines event where Sir Richard Branson planted a kiss on Sam’s cheek….. He’s still blushing! Sam holds a Degree in Classical Music Studies from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and is an accredited Wiley DiSC Facilitator.

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-mcneill-90705a31/

SongDivision: https://songdivision.com

Episode links

Link to a relevant episode of the podcast: https://thebigpicturepeople.co.uk/blog/podcast/podcasting-as-an-internal-comms-channel-s2-e20/

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