Looking to improve your workplace? The answer may be resting at your feet. According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. Stress is a major contributor to employee absenteeism, morale and burnout and results in significant loss of productivity and resources. But a preliminary study, published in the March 2012 issue of the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, found that dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact.
The VCU researchers compared employees who bring their dogs to work, employees who do not bring their dogs to work and employees without pets in the areas of stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and support. â€œAlthough preliminary, this study provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employeesâ€™ pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support and commitment,â€ said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management in the VCU School of Business. â€œPet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support. Of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace,â€ he said.
Another study from 2010, headed by Christopher Honts, at Central Michigan University, found that the mere presence of a canine in the office could help make people collaborate more effectively. The researchers also showed that the staff who worked with a dog gave all their teammates higher scores for trust and team cohesion than those who worked in dog-free groups.
A recent survey of 50 companies that welcome pets found: 1. Lower stress levels and less absenteeism than in pet-free offices; 2. Productivity and employee morale got a boost when canine companions joined the work force; 3. Employees were more willing to work overtime, thanks to the addition of pets in the workplace.
So, if your company doesnâ€™t have a dog-in-the-workplace policy—Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 21 is an opportune time to test out this growing trend. The following tips can be used to help set up a successful dog-policy.
1. Start off with a committee made up of dog owners and non-dog owners to draft a policy.
2. Dogs must be friendly to human and other dogs and have a good social personality.
3. Follow a dog â€˜hireâ€™ policy where a new dog is interviewed for acceptability into the workplace.
4. Fearful or shy dogs might not do well in a busy office.
5. Basic training is a must and dogs should be housebroken.
6. Dogs should be clean, free of illness, and should be up on routine vaccinations.
7. Introduce a dog slowly into the workplace, and introduce a new dog to the other office dogs in a neutral area.
8. Employees should sign a waiver and be responsible for any damage or harm to equipment, facility or other dogs and humans.
9. Dogs can be leashed, and the use of baby gates or crates can also be useful.
10. Consider a dog-free zone for employees who might have allergies or who are frightened of dogs.
If your business is a new or proven dog-friendly practitioner—”consider entering Bark’s Best Places to Work presented by Zuke’s. The Bark is searching for the most dog-friendly workplaces in America. Three winning companies will be featured in Barkâ€™s Winter 2013 issue and each of their office pups will receive a year’s worth of Zuke’s dog treats! Contest details, rules and entry form are available here: http://thebark.com/content/barks-best-places-work