Following Up On The Movement To Improve Workplace Satisfaction

Several weeks ago, we examined the value of improving workplace satisfaction within the orchestra field via grassroots efforts; specifically, increasing the quantity and frequency of reviews from arts administrators and staffers about their respective institutions at

Adaptistration People 094Since then there has been a noticeable increase in reviews with 10 new entries at seven orchestras. Of those, four reviews were for groups that only had reviews from 2014 or older so the recent additions are even more valuable by bringing more groups into a recent timeframe.

  1. Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (not included in original article)
  2. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra was 3.2, now 3.1/5.0
  3. Detroit Symphony Orchestra was 3.2, now 2.9/5.0
  4. Chicago Symphony Orchestra no change from 3.7/5.0
  5. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (not included in original article)
  6. Elgin Symphony Orchestra (not included in original article)
  7. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (not included in original article)

This is a great trend and although 10 reviews may not seem like much, it’s a sharp increase over past performance which means the more this trend continues, the better.

Work for an opera org and feeling left out? No worries, GlassDoor already has a number of entries for opera organizations, there are currently 10 with at least one review from 2015 and perhaps unsurprisingly, the average satisfaction ratings for this cross section were nearly identical to their symphony orchestra peers.

  1. Arizona Opera 4.7/5.0
  2. Detroit Opera 4.0/5.0
  3. Houston Grand Opera 2.9/5.0
  4. Lyric Opera of Chicago 3.2/5.0
  5. Los Angeles Opera 2.8/5.0
  6. Metropolitan Opera 2.9/5.0
  7. San Francisco Opera 3.0/5.0
  8. Sarasota Opera 1.5/5.0
  9. Skylight Opera 3.8/5.0
  10. Washington National Opera 4.5/5.0

Following Up On Our Original Fun

Along with orchestra employers, we took a quick look at service organizations and musicians unions and although the latter groups had no new reviews, the League of American Orchestras had a very recent review from October 10, 2015 that contributed to the organization holding steady at an average score of 2.1/5.0. There were no entries for Opera America.

Looking Ahead

These changes are very encouraging; as such, it is more important than ever to continue in this direction in order to begin implementing positive change by making sure more orchestra managers are aware that something like exists and can be used by both current and former employees.

Granted, there are certainly critics of services like, which allow members to post review content anonymously, but some Google sleuthing turns up more favorable reviews than not.

We’ll check in again in a few months to see what’s new; in the meantime, be sure to participate by leaving your own reviews and encouraging colleagues to do the same.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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