All us dog lovers know that giving your pet a cuddle and a stroke, in fact even just having them around, can help the stress of daily life just melt away. But how can you convince your boss that bringing your four-legged friend to work with you is a) an excellent idea and b) won’t just distract your colleagues? It could be easier than you think thanks to surveys which shows that having a dog at work can reduce stress and boost performance and job satisfaction.
Researchers in the US looked at 75 staff over a week, comparing stress levels, job satisfaction and feelings about support from, and commitment to, the company. Their findings showed that people who took their dogs to work were less stressed as the day went on compared to those who didn’t.
It also showed that having dogs around can boost morale and that the employees with access to dogs had higher job satisfaction than industry norms. Their work, which has been published in the International Journal of Workplace Health, complements a survey that Blue Cross commissioned a few years back.
More than 90 per cent of businesses we asked that allowed dogs at work said they’d seen a positive change in the working environment. One in two businesses noticed a decrease in absenteeism, 56 per cent said their dog had improved work relations, and 67 per cent said it improved staff morale.
Not only are dogs great ice-breakers with clients, they also create a feel-good factor among staff.
Having a pet in the workplace really can help to reduce stress levels and heart rates – even stroking a dog can lower blood pressure.
At Blue Cross we encourage our employees to bring their well-behaved dogs into work where it’s practical and we’ve seen a more enjoyable working environment.
Blue Cross Education Manager Kerry Taylor brings her dog Diddy into work with her. She says: “It’s so hard to tear yourself away from the computer sometimes but I have to take Diddy for a walk at lunch time, which means I get to have a break and relax, and I feel much more productive in the afternoon.
“My colleagues also love it because when they’re feeling stressed or upset they can come over and give him a cuddle and it makes them feel better.”
Dogs are usually much happier if they can come with you to work too because they’re not being left at home for long periods of time.
Dogs are social pets and can struggle to cope when they’re left at home all day, and this is reflected in their behaviour, like barking, chewing furniture and anxiety.
When it doesn’t work
Taking a dog to work won’t be suitable for every workplace, particularly those with strict health and safety requirements like restaurants and factories, and you also have to bear in mind that some of your colleagues could be allergic to dogs.
Think about whether your working environment will suit your dog too, and whether they’ll genuinely enjoy the experience or if they’d be better off at home.
Keep an eye out for any signs of stress, like panting and licking lips, and make sure they have a quiet place to relax at all times.
Top tips for taking your dog to work
• Keep your dog under proper control at all times.
• Check insurance and health and safety implications and make sure that any requirements are followed.
• Carry out a simple risk assessment. A risk assessment is simply deciding what could go wrong and ensuring you’ve taken sufficient precautions to prevent or minimise any risks. If your workplace employs five or more people, the risk assessment must be in writing.
• Check your own insurance and/or pet insurance policies and ensure it provides adequate cover for damage to third party property or injury to third parties (including fellow employees).
• Make sure your dog is housetrained, but be prepared for little accidents.
• Your dog should be in good health and not suffering from any sickness.
• Watch out for signs of stress – is your dog panting a lot or licking his lips?
• Make sure there’s a quiet and comfy place for your dog to relax.
• Ensure they have access to fresh water.
• Don’t forget walkies!
For more information on the benefits of taking dogs to the workplace, click here.
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