Today, business mans best friend is in the spotlight. Take Your Dog to Work Day was on June 21st this year. The annual non-official holiday, sponsored by Pet Sitters International, encourages people to bring their furry friends to the office for a day. Many workplaces, however, allow pets year-round. Supporters of the holiday and pet-friendly offices say having dogs and cats in the workplace reduces stress and increases productivity.
This might seem counter-intuitive: sure, petting an animal has been shown to reduce stress, but how can anyone be more productive with a lot of barking dogs around? As with many non-traditional office policies, it depends on the workplace, the employees, and in this case, the dogs. Pet-friendly offices are exactly that: offices. In an environment where employees are primarily working at desks, dogs can be contained by leashes or baby gates. If you run a warehouse or a production line, however, pets are not only potentially distracting, they’re a safety concern. Even in a safe environment, owners and employees need to be mindful of how their dogs will act around strangers, other dogs, and even being in a new environment. Skittish or aggressive animals need not apply.
So, with all these extra things to consider, how is it that animals in the office actually make employees do more and better work? According to a study published last year by a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, increased productivity goes hand-in-hand with reduced stress. Having (well-behaved) animals around led dog owners to feel that their employer cared about their well-being, and also decreased anxiety about how their dogs were doing during the day: if your pet is right there with you, there’s no need to worry about how she’s doing at home in your absence.
Any non-traditional office policy takes some initial work and analysis to make sure it will be a benefit to your workplace, but the increase in employee productivity and happiness will be well worth it. What do you do in your business to keep your employees happy?