Benefits of bringing your dog to work: Why pet-friendly workplaces attract millennials

We all know puppy cuddles can help to heal everything from a broken heart to a bad haircut. Tianna Nadalin writes for the Herald Sun, “According to the latest research, they might even be able to spare you from a bad day at the office.”

“With stress levels and employee burnout at all-time highs, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to not only improve employee wellbeing but also to increase overall job satisfaction. To do so, businesses are letting the dogs out. Like, fur real.”

“Instead of working like dogs, pet-friendly offices encourage employees to work with them. And they are popping up everywhere.”

“The benefits of bringing four-legged friends to work are many. They can help to lower employee stress levels, heart rate and blood pressure, as well as alleviate feelings of social isolation — particularly for those who do not work as part of a team.”

“Office dogs have also been shown to improve productivity and positively impact culture by increasing co-operation, friendliness and perceived approachability among co-workers.”

“Surveys also suggest dog-friendly offices could be key when it comes to attracting millennials, many of whom favour experiences and fur babies over financial security and families.”

“So, with, a growing body of evidence highlighting the health, productivity and social benefits of pet-friendly workplaces, there has never been a better time to adopt a canine colleagues policy.”

Six reasons why allowing pets in the workplace is a grand idea:

1. Boost morale

A recent study by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Human-Animal Interaction in the US found that having dogs in the workplace appeared to improve morale among all members of staff — both who owned pets and who were pet-free. Participants were split into two groups — one that brought their dogs to work and one that left their furry friends at home. Both groups reported increased levels of job satisfaction on the days when dogs were present. Study author Randolph Barker said: “Employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”

2 . Lower stress

Stress is a major contributor to employee absenteeism, morale and burnout and results in significant loss of productivity and resources. But according to the Virginia Commonwealth University study, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners. “Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” Prof. Barker said. “The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant.”

3. Improve employee collaboration

The Virginia University study also noted that when there were dogs at the office, people who normally wouldn’t talk to each other did, the dogs acting as a social lubricant.

A similar study by The University of Western Australia found that pet owners were more likely to perceive friendly exchanges or informal greetings. This research supports the idea that pets in the office can break down the barriers of communication between strangers, improve feelings of community and encourage employee collaboration.

4. Attract younger talent

Millennials are getting married later and delaying starting a family, with many choosing not to start families at all, opting instead for fur babies and lifelong travel. A study published in the Journal of Business Research found that younger people, overall, value their canine connections more strongly. Many want greater flexibility in their lifestyle and therefore are attracted to the types of workplaces that offer culture-based perks, such as animal-friendly offices or the ability to buy annual leave.

5. Boost creativity

Walking has been proven to enhance creativity and boost productivity. It makes sense, then, for businesses to encourage employees to get out and go for a walk instead of eating lunch at their desk. And what better way to do so than by having puppies in the office. If sitting is the new smoking then taking 20 minutes to move, enjoy some fresh air and soak up some sunshine has commercial benefits in terms of increased ideas generation and output.

6. Increase trust

Need to win over some important stakeholders? A study published in the Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin found that people were more likely to trust others after playing with a dog. This might be the paw-fact excuse to get the puppies out.

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