Press release:

Battle of the Bands: The workplace return playlist

Friday 16 July 2021
  • UK managers pick top tunes to motivate staff on first day back in the workplace
  • Eclectic playlist spans decades from 1950s to present day with Pharrell Williams coming in at number one
  • Music has played an integral part in maintaining work morale since ancient times

As the nation awaits the rescheduled ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday 19 July, managers across the UK have picked out their top tunes to welcome staff back when Government work from home guidance is lifted. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI)  recently asked members(i) to choose their number one tune to welcome back and motivate their staff on their first day back to the workplace.

Emerging at number one was  Happy by Pharrel Williams which was chosen by 28% of respondents, followed by U2’s hit Beautiful Day which was chosen by 21% of managers. Third place went to 90s hit Things Can Only Get Better by D:REAM which scored 16%.

Golden oldies fared less well with 80s classic Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 being picked by only 9% and The Beatles’ record A Hard Day’s Night  chosen by only 2%, behind contemporary tune The Business by Tiesto chosen by 3%.

Age appeared to play some part in people’s music choices with Happy being the top song choice for both Millenials/Gen Z and Gen X, with 29% and 30% respectively choosing the song. Meanwhile the most popular song for Baby Boomers was Things Can Only Get Better with 24% selecting the song, significantly more than Millenials/Gen Z (14%) and Gen X (15%).(ii)

Daisy Hooper, Head of Policy at CMI, said:

It’s important that managers bear in mind that for some staff, the return to the workplace may be a bit daunting. Music can be a fun way to get people talking to each other about something other than the pandemic, help to boost morale and reduce feelings of pressure. Managers need to be empathetic, inclusive and communicative to help their teams settle in. For some the return may be more challenging and that’s why we’ve launched the Better Manager’s Roadmap, a free guide to supporting employees as they return to the workplace.

To download the Better Manager’s Roadmap: Reflect, Reskill, Rebuild visit:

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Media contact:

Antony Quarrell Press Officer

Notes to editors

  1. The core findings in this release were sourced from a Manager's Voice survey conducted between 28 May and 2 June 2021. A total of 1,239 UK-based managers responded. The Managers Voice is a bimonthly survey of all paying CMI members. The findings relate to practising managers in employment (employed and furloughed) in the UK. Their demographic, sector and regional breakdowns are available on request. Breakdown of song choices were as follows:
    1. Happy by Pharrell Williams (10s) - 28%
    2. Beautiful Day by U2 (00s) - 21%
    3. Things Can Only Get Better by D:REAM (90s) - 16%
    4. 9-5 by Dolly Parton (80s) - 9%
    5. The Business by Tiesto (20s) - 3%
    6. A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles (60s) - 2%
    7. Money, Money, Money by Abba (70s) - 1%
    8. Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets (50s) - 1%
  1. Although we cannot map perfectly to the Generations due to age brackets, we classify Gen Z as 24 and under, millennials as 25 - 44, Gen X as 45 - 54 and Baby Boomers as 55+.  Millennials and Gen Z were grouped together due to low bases for Gen Z.

About the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the chartered professional body for management and leadership, counting more than 164,000 managers and leaders in its membership community. There are currently over 11,000 Chartered Managers and growing.

Backed by a unique Royal Charter, CMI is the only organisation able to award Chartered Manager status - the ultimate management accolade, which is proven to boost individuals’ career prospects, management capability, and impact in the workplace.