This month, ArtsWave launches CincyJams, the Cincinnati region's newest Battle of the Bands competition. The twist is that each band is comprised of employees from local companies. It's ArtsWave's latest initiative using the arts to help companies jumpstart employee engagement.

The events of the past few years have underscored how important it is to companies to keep their team engaged. Disenfranchisement hurts more than just staff members. Studies show that it affects a business's bottom line. A 2009 paper published in the Journal of Compensation and Benefits found that organizations with engaged employees enjoy higher revenue growth and less employee turnover.

A 2013 Gallup poll estimated that "actively disengaged" employees cost U.S. companies as much as $550 billion per year in lost productivity. In subsequent years, that situation began to improve — until 2021, when employee engagement in the U.S. experienced its first annual decline in a decade, dropping from 36% in 2020 to 34% in 2022, in terms of engaged employees.

Factor in the stressors of the pandemic, and companies are finding it harder than ever to engage employees. In a February 2021 global Harvard Business Review study, 89% of workers said that their work life was getting worse, 85% said their well-being had declined and 56% said their job demands had increased.

As businesses look for new ways to boost employee engagement and well-being, the arts are a powerful and often underutilized resource. According to an Americans for the Arts report on employee engagement, 87% of businesses and organizations see their culture and engagement as top challenges. When they engage in arts partnerships, 59% of businesses say the arts increase employee creativity and growth.

Each year, hundreds of local companies bring employees together through arts engagements as part of their workplace fundraising campaign for ArtsWave. CincyJams is ArtsWave's latest tool to foster that engagement.

Ten bands, representing some of Cincinnati's biggest companies, will compete May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Hard Rock Café. The top two winners will receive the opportunity to perform on stage at BLINK®, illuminated by ArtsWave, happening October 13-16.

Messer Construction is one of the companies participating in CincyJams. Tim Steigerwald, President & CEO of Messer Construction and Chair of the 2022 ArtsWave Campaign, notes, "As a long time ArtsWave supporter, Messer is very excited to have a band competing in the CincyJams event on May 19. This is another tremendous way to get our employees engaged with ArtsWave and celebrate our deep arts culture in Cincinnati."

CincyJams gives employees the chance to get to know each other outside of work. Performing in a band together strengthens bonds and fosters a greater sense of connectivity, both within organizations and in the Cincinnati region as coworkers, friends and family come out to cheer the bands on.

To learn more about how the arts can help you engage your employees, contact Lisa Wolter at or visit