Many companies and employers are recognising that a pet-friendly workplace helps to improve employee satisfaction, increases work ethic and has a positive, motivating and performance-enhancing effect. Since 1999, when the national 'Take your dog to work day' campaign was launched, efforts to integrate dogs into everyday work are taking on more momentum. During the pandemic, people are realising just how important their pets are in their lives for both their physical and mental wellbeing. This should not only be an advantage in their home life, but also at their workplace. For example, the German 'Bundesverband Bürohund' (Alliance for Office Dogs) advocates for the incorporation of dogs into the workplace to counteract the 'dramatic increase in mental illness and burnout in working life'.
The benefits for both companies and employees
Several studies and research have shown that dogs offer social support, are able to reduce stress, increase cognitive abilities and social interaction and counteract depression and anxiety in people. Not only do the owners benefit from this, but also non-dog owners who share their work environment with the dogs of their colleagues and ultimately also the companies themselves. The reason is obvious: work-related stress can decrease concentration and work motivation, create a tense work environment, reduce the work performance of employees and lead to burnout and increased absenteeism/sick leave. In contrast, the presence of a dog in the office can bring significant benefits to the health and performance of employees, which could help to increase productivity and the efficiency of many companies.
A study proved the positive effects
A research team compared three groups of employees. One group brought their dogs to work, the second left their dogs at home, the third did not have dogs. The study focused on the following factors: stress, job satisfaction, organisational commitment and social support. The results showed that the presence of dogs in the office made a meaningful difference. For the group who had their dogs with them there was a significant reduction in stress during the workday compared to the other groups. The presence of the dogs also ensured more positive interaction (dog-related conversations) that would not have existed without them, and thus a more relaxed work environment. Some non-dog owners even took the animals for a walk. Like dog owners, they were reminded to take a break from time to time, to pause and get out into the fresh air and give them a mental break to counteract any stress.
More pet friendly workplaces are needed
Many companies, large and small, have already taken this step and allow dogs in the workplace. Dogs are also welcome in many of our FOUR PAWS offices and the benefits are clear to see not only for the staff but also for the animals themselves. Of course, it is important to put in place some rules to ensure that everyone has clear expectations when bringing their pets to the office and that there is no disturbance to people’s work, however once these rules are in place everyone will start to see the benefits. Employers and companies that have not yet considered allowing their employees to bring their dogs to work should be encouraged to do so and experience all the advantages that it brings with it.
Benefits of taking your dog to work may not be far-fetched. ScienceDaily. [accessed 2021 Feb 18]. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120330081235.htm
Kim H, Stoner M. Burnout and turnover intention among social workers: Effects of role stress, job autonomy and social support. Administration in Social Work. 2008;32(3):5–25. doi:10/cgvm8v
Der Verband. Bundesverband Bürohund. [accessed 2021 Feb 17]. https://xn--bv-brohund-deb.de/ueber-uns/der-verband/
Souter MA, Miller MD. Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression: a meta-analysis. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK74080/
Fischer J, Sousa-Poza A. Does Job Satisfaction Improve the Health of Workers? New Evidence using Panel Data and Objective Measures of Health. SSRN Electronic Journal. 2008 Jan 1. doi:10/fz3sx4
Foreman AM, Glenn MK, Meade BJ, Wirth O. Dogs in the Workplace: A Review of the Benefits and Potential Challenges. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017 [accessed 2021 Feb 11];14(5). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5451949/. doi:10/gbmpvm
McConnell AR, Brown CM, Shoda TM, Stayton LE, Martin CE. Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2011;101(6):1239–1252. doi:10/bs6vhd
Hall S, Wright H, Mccune S, Zulch H, Mills D. Perceptions of Dogs in the Workplace: The Pros and the Cons. Anthrozoös. 2017;30:291–305. doi:10/gh35jt
Barker RT, Knisely JS, Barker SB, Cobb RK, Schubert CM. Preliminary investigation of employee’s dog presence on stress and organizational perceptions. International Journal of Workplace Health Management. 2012;5(1):15–30. doi:10.1108/17538351211215366
Gee NR, Crist EN, Carr DN. Preschool Children Require Fewer Instructional Prompts to Perform a Memory Task in the Presence of a Dog. Anthrozoös. 2010;23(2):173–184. doi:10.2752/175303710X12682332910051
Hall SS, Mills DS. Taking Dogs Into the Office: A Novel Strategy for Promoting Work Engagement, Commitment and Quality of Life. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2019 [accessed 2020 Nov 9];6. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2019.00138/full. doi:10.3389/fvets.2019.00138
The Benefits of Bringing Pets to Work | USC Online. USC MAPP Online. 2017 Jan 31 [accessed 2021 Feb 16]. https://appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu/blog/the-benefits-of-bringing-pets-to-work/