Tails in the workplace
We all know that a dog is man’s best friend but would you trust him (the dog not the man!) at your place of work? I have grown up with dogs in the family and have missed not having one into my adulthood. As a strong advocate of dogs I know a lot about them, most of us know they are great to help us exercise, are loyal, great company and put a smile on our faces. I wasn’t fully aware, however, of how they can help ease stress.
When my son was very poorly in hospital I didn’t think I’d ever see him smile again until onto the ward strolled a beautiful golden retriever dog called Narla. She came up to my son with her wagging tail and lovely big brown eyes and my son instantly stroked her and smiled! It was the happiest I’d seen him in a long time and I believe she genuinely helped him to feel more cheerful. Even the rest of family felt lifted by Narla’s visit.
Look at that Smile! (Photo copyright of Lighthouse Virtual Assistant)
We learnt that Narla (named after Aslan’s daughter from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) was a PAT (Pets As Therapy) dog. She was one of the many dogs from the national Pets As Therapy Charity who goes into hospitals, nursing and care homes and special needs schools. They also work with stroke patients, people who may have dog phobias and even help children to gain more confidence with their reading in the classroom environment. The dogs give people a chance to stroke, talk and hold one of these lovely natured animals.
At the time of meeting Narla we didn’t have a dog but have since gained two extra four legged, fluffy family members and my son and daughter both have a very special bond with them. For me, just walking our dogs daily before I start work really helps set my mind on the tasks ahead for the day.
I started to wonder, after my chance meeting with Narla, how dogs could help stress levels at work especially in today’s world where everything seems so fast paced. After a bit of online research I found an article about a study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health and Management which discovered that job satisfaction increased when dogs were allowed to be present in the workplace.
Randolph Barker (great name, very apt!), lead study author and professor of management at the VCU School of Business, said dogs can make a positive difference in the workplace:
“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.”
My two love the fact they can lounge around in my office all day!
Prof Barker said having dogs around the workplace may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction.
And he reported positive comments from employees such as “pets in the workplace can be a great bonus for employee morale”, “having dogs here is great stress relief” and “dogs are positive; dogs increase co-worker cooperation.”
Obviously dogs at work are not always appropriate depending on the environment and they need to be well behaved – you don’t want him mistaking your bosses favourite pot plant for his toilet! But it is interesting that people feel animals can help us in boosting morale and reduce the impact of everyday stresses. I’m certainly won over after meeting Narla!
Find out more about Pets As Therapy Charity and Professor Barker’s research.
If you’re not fortunate enough to take man’s best friend into your office see if I can help ease your stress levels by reducing your daily workload.
Update: After writing this blog I tweeted it and the Pets as Therapy Charity kindly re-tweeted and gave the response below – such a pleasure to help a great cause: