Those of us who are able to have our pets at work on a regular basis know that the more of our day they are with us, the less stress we feel. Less stress translates to better health for everyone. We also know that the presence of our pets brightens the day for others and often makes visitors feel comfortable more quickly and helps meetings get off to a better start.
Now, there is empirical support for the value of pets in the workplace. VCU Business School Professor Randolph Barker, along with several collaborators, conducted research that provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employees’ pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support and commitment. The results, which were released last spring, support the premise that stress is lowered and job satisfaction increased when employees can bring their pets with them to work. The study reveals that, during the course of the work day, self-reported stress declined for employees who had their dogs with them in the workplace and increased for non-pet guardians and pet guardians who did not bring their dogs to work. The team noted that stress significantly rose during the day when owners left their dogs at home compared to days they brought them to work. According to Dr. Barker, the team observed unique dog-related communication in the workplace that may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction. For example, employees without a dog were observed requesting to take a co-worker’s dog out on a break. These were brief, positive exchanges as the dogs were taken and returned and also resulted in an employee break involving exercise.
Each year, when we urge local businesses to participate in National Take Your Dog to Work Day, the explanation for their refusal is that it will be “distracting.” Those of us for whom pets in the workplace are a constant know that there is no distraction once they become a regular and expected part of the work day. They actually provide a real employment benefit in addition to being a health benefit and an asset to morale. Businesses with calmer, more satisfied and healthier employees not only have a better functioning environment but also fewer costs associated with sickness. So, help us to encourage employers in our community to allow their staff members to bring their pets to work, or at a minimum to participate in Bring Your Pet to Work Day. Everyone will be the better for it.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.