Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whistle or sing a happy tune

Every once in awhile, I wonder what our jobs would be like if we just whistled while we worked.

Or better yet, what if we sang. You never hear workers whistling or let alone singing on the job. I think the trouble is we're just way too serious.

People often complain of being in silos or walled off at work, where they feel distant because of a lack of contact. Instead of talking face-to-face, we email each other or phone co-workers in the very next cubicle. How impersonal is that?

"Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place..."

Historically, work songs were sung while workers shared a common task. They often were timed to the swinging of a sledge hammer or pumping levers and the like.

How come we don't use work songs as an antidote for isolation on the job or even a cure for workplace violence.

Work songs used to help people complete the most difficult tasks before automation took the place of good old-fashioned elbow grease. Just think of how they might help our down economy and relieve pressures to work smarter.

"So hum a merry tune
It won't take long when there's a song to help you set the pace..."

Some offices tune into their favorite country radio stations. I suppose that could be a substitute for singing on the job. But I don't think it's the same as belting out your favorite lyrics at the top of your lungs while delivering a report down the hall or drafting a spreadsheet.

What is there to feel good about when you play a country song anyway? You lose your wife, your dog, your job, your hair, your house, your health, maybe even your dreams. Are you feeling the love, yet?

"And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom is someone that you love
And soon you'll find you're dancing to the tune.

When hearts are high the time will fly so whistle while you work..."

I like the idea of singing together. I think the world would be a much happier place if everyone, including the top dogs, would get together for a rousing songfest once a week.

Imagine your CEO leading rounds of "Roll Out the Barrel" every Friday afternoon. His sleeves rolled up, sweat on his brow, his hands moving to the beat of the music and everyone joining in. Next to him is the COO and the CFO. We all buds having a good time, lifting everyones' spirits. As ridiculous as this may sound, it would put a big spike in my happy-o-meter.

"Just whistle while you work
Put on that grin and start right in to whistle loud and long
Just hum a merry tune
Just do your best and take a rest and sing yourself a song..."

Every once in awhile, I wonder if reestablishing the old practice of singing while we work would create harmony and maybe even help us grow the top line and shrink the bottom line. I'm thinking a workforce chorus with a dunk tank for floor managers. It could happen during all those coffee breaks we never take because there is too much work to do.

"When there's too much to do
Don't let it bother you, forget your troubles,
Try to be just like a cheerful chick-a-dee..."

Who knows? Maybe they need to sing or tweet, like the bird variety, on Wall Street. Heaven knows they need help.

And just one last comment: I'd like to see a national day of worksongs. I don't care if you can sing or not. Sing anyway.

"And whistle while you work
Come on get smart, tune up and start
To whistle while you work..."

Source: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place awards statewide. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on Facebook.


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