Sing while you work

Did anyone catch that fabulous programme on BBC2 a couple of months ago – The Choir?

I’m sure many of you will have heard of Gareth Malone and his work with the Military Wives choir. Well, his most recent programme covered workplace choirs – basically gathering together a bunch of people who could sing in a range of well known organisations and turning them into amazing and very professional sounding singing machines.

Here’s a quick glimpse if you didn’t catch it…


I was lucky enough to hear one of these choirs first hand at a recent Engage for Success event. The Royal Mail choir were wonderful – and of course they had to sing “Return to sender”!



The point the speaker makes at the beginning of this piece of film is really important. Before The Choir, none of these people even knew each other; they knew nothing about each other’s work or lives. However by the end of the process, they had gelled not only as a choir, but also as colleagues, and in many cases, friends.

After their performance we heard from a number of the choir members about their experiences and they all agreed that coming together and working towards a common goal had, of course, been great for their singing, but had also had a huge effect on their work lives. They were collaborating more, their workplace was happier and more energised and they felt more productive.

Interestingly enough, a few days after this event, I was talking to some people I know from Severn Trent Water. They also participated in The Choir series and became the eventual winners of the competition. They told me that even though they, as individuals, weren’t in the choir and didn’t really know many of the people who were, they felt an immense sense of pride in their colleagues and their workplace for having participated – and won. It seems the positive effect was felt all over the organisation.

The key point for me about all of this is that the choirs brought people who didn’t normally come into contact together; it gave them a sense of purpose and a feeling of pride in their workplace. They worked hard as a team and achieved success.

I’m not saying we should all go and start choirs, but there is a lesson to learn here that giving people the space to meet each other and interact, even if initially on a social level, can lead to better collaboration, engagement and productivity in a work context too.

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