Who can resist puppy dog eyes? According to recent statistics, not many of us. Around 44 per cent of the British population own a pet, with the majority opting for a dog. But what happens during the week when the treat bags and leads are replaced by laptops and briefcases? Unfortunately for our furry friends, these are signs that the working week has begun and it’s time for us to head out.
But, things are beginning to change.
Thanks to the on-going success of Bring Your Dog To Work Day, more and more employers are allowing their employees to bring their canine companions to work with them. If your boss needs a little persuading, Stef Gorman of Stefanius looks at why dogs should be welcome at work!
“The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms” – Randolph T. Barker, professor of management in the VCU School of Business VCU
In the UK, around 11.7 million working days are lost each year due to stress, anxiety and depression (health and safety executive). To tackle this issue head on, companies around the world, from offices to airports, are ‘putting pooches to work’.
According to research, ‘88 per cent of dog owners say that they feel happier and have abetter quality of life because of their pets and almost 30 per cent dog owners admit that having a dog helped them overcome depression and loneliness’ (Swapaw).
Feeling blue? Seeing red? Ripping your hair out? Enter man’s best friend.
With a remarkable ability to read body language, a sense of smell one million times more sensitive than ours and ears capable of picking up sounds of a wide range of frequencies, it’s no surprise that dogs are pros when it comes to picking up on our emotions.
But, when they’re not extending an affectionate paw our way, bracing themselves for cuddles or assuming the role of a furry handkerchief, how do dogs improve our mood?
Health Magazine reveals the science behind our stress-busting friends: ‘Petting a dog for just 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol’.
“It increases productivity threefold” Kia, employee of X, Financial Times
Shockingly, only 62 per cent of workers are ‘engaged’ at work. So, what can you do to get workers working? One of Entrepreneur Magazine’s ways to increase productivity is to go pet-friendly!
Professor Paul Zak, neuro-economics professor at Claremont Graduate University in California, agrees with this tack, saying: ‘It is not just “nice” or “fun” to have dogs at work, it is an effective way to improve productivity and profits’ (Daily Mail).
‘The Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without canine companions.’ ACTIVE.com
Dogs require anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours of exercise each day. And it’s not just out pets that need regular exercise: the World Health Organisation recommends we exercise 150 minutes each week.
But how can we fit all of this exercise into our busy work schedules? When accompanying you to work, dogs act as a constant reminder to get out and get walking! In fact, research conducted by BMC Public Health found that dog owners walk for an average of 22 minutes longer than their pet-less counterparts. Thanks to our loveable, furry friends, 87 per cent of dog owners meet the WHO’s exercise guidelines compared to 47 per cent of non-dog owners.
Gets people talking
Having a dog-friendly workplace ‘encouraged interaction and socialisation between employees who may not have crossed paths otherwise’. Paul Steadman, Nestlé UK’s Head of HR
Millennials are actually obsessed with emails, with one third of them preferring to be reached by email for work. While this gets the job done, offices around the country are becoming silent and dehumanised. When was the last time you spoke to a member of the creative department? When did you last exchange words over a cuppa with your HR rep? When did you last have a natter with your boss?
According to research, ‘a good relationship with one’s supervisor and liking one’s co-workers are consistently rated as major factors for job satisfaction’. But how can you possibly build office relationships without speaking to one another? When dogs are in the office, communication flourishes.
While you and your colleagues might not all share the same music taste, eat the same food or enjoy the same films, everyone can appreciate and get chatting about a dog: ‘people come and talk to me, I don’t think they know my name but they know my dog’ (an employee of Nestlé commenting on the benefits of their dog-friendly workplace, BBC).
If these perks aren’t enough to inspire your boss to hire some hounds, here are some more interesting facts:
- 16 per cent of millennials would give up employer-funded gym membership for dogs
- Animals at work are so sought after that people will take a pay-cut or work more to bring their pooch to work
- 42 per cent of those aged 18-34 across the UK would like or enjoy a dog-friendly workplace
- High-profile organisations around the world, including Amazon and Google, already allow dogs into the workplace I know from experience how having my faithful friend in the office has made a massive difference
There’s no doubt that introducing a dog into the workplace is a low-cost and effective way to boost well-being and productivity. Progressive employers are increasingly recognising that (wo)man’s best friend is indispensable between the hours of 9 to 5.