Taking dogs to work 'reduces employee stress'

 
beagle dog Even employees without dogs wanted to take colleagues' pets for a walk

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Bringing pet dogs to work can reduce stress and make the job more satisfying for other employees, a study suggests.

US researchers found those with access to dogs were less stressed as the day went on than those who had none.

The preliminary study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management looked at 75 staff.

The researchers suggested access to dogs boosted morale and reduced stress levels, whether people had access to their own pets or other people's.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University who looked at a manufacturing company where people are allowed to bring their pets to work.

They compared those who brought in their own pets, with those who had dogs - but left them at home - and staff who did not own pets.

Over a week, the researchers compared employees' stress levels, job satisfaction and feelings about support from and commitment to the company.

Pooch power

Stress hormone levels were measured using saliva samples during the day.

In the morning, there was no difference between the three groups.

But during the course of the work day, stress levels appeared to decline for employees with their dogs present and increased for non-pet owners and dog owners who did not bring their dogs to work.

Start Quote

The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”

End Quote Prof Randolph Barker Virginia Commonwealth University

The researchers also noted that stress rose significantly during the day when owners left their dogs at home compared to days they brought them to work.

Randolph Barker, 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."

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."

Past research has shown that stress can contribute to employee absenteeism and burnout. It can also result in significant loss of productivity.

Louise Lee, spokesperson at pet charity Blue Cross said they have always promoted the benefits of dogs in the workplace.

"We encourage our employees to bring in their well-behaved dogs where practical and we have seen similar results to the survey - a more enjoyable working environment, staff more likely to take regular breaks and a reduction in stress through stroking and petting dogs during the working day.

"The dogs themselves are also much happier as they are not being left at home for long periods of time."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 90.

    Great if you work from home but not realistic otherwise. How can anyone work in between barking dogs who will want to play with, or worse, fight the other dogs? What about people with phobia's or allergies? Or who simply do not like dogs? I am sure the 'injury lawyers for you' firms would love it though. I wonder how many companies would be sued because someone tripped over a dog?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 89.

    I own a beagle and work from home.

    Yes, great joy and a relaxing time watching him in the garden when he tries to play with our cat - but I think if I worked in an office then he'd turn my hair grey before the lunch break!

    Still, it may well work for some...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 88.

    While I am a dog person, and I would love to bring Sasha and Nikita to work, I worry that the problem leading to stress is how jobs are designed and performance targets established. Bringing a dog to work to cure stress is like taking aspirin for cancer.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 87.

    82.PJ Hughes - Be serious. Imagine the cat carrier you'd need, not to mention the sand box.

    Although taking my Tarantula into a work place could be a good motivator.

    Animals get stressed aswell so employers should consider the animals welfare, also the H&S implications with allergens and parasites. It could be a good thing in some places but it'd take a very laid back and calm dog/cat to work.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 86.

    What about those who are allergic to animals? There are a fair few of us around. Although I don't mind animals I once had to sit in a meeting with a guide dog for 2 hours & despite keeping as far away as I could, became quite unwell. I would not be able to work in an environment with animals.
    Not a practical idea, I think ...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    Dog at work?………fine, as long as it doesn't try to hump your leg every time you get up to use the photocopier

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 84.

    I have an allergy to animal fur, and this would prevent me from working. It's a life time thing, to the point when I can 'smell' a dog from a couple of rooms away, partly due to the tingle in the back of my nose and the link between that scent and abject MISERY. If I can feel that, I'm not going to get any work done, and my stress levels will most certainly be going in an upward direction.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 83.

    Oh please, this is hardly news. Pat a dog and visiting pets have been a staple in care / nursing homes for decades and pet therapy has been aknow about for longer than that

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 82.

    Could this be extended to pets generally?

    Maybe then, I could buy a full sized tiger or something and see what happens!!!!!!!

    :-)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    "...access to dogs boosted morale and reduced stress levels..." --EVIDENTLY !!! Prior studies over many years have indicated the enumerable & positive significance (in health & well-being) of experiencing mindful & compassionate canine relations. Additionally, as undeniably evidenced in varied "Animal/Pet Therapy" programs wherein the lives of so many have been wonderfully effected so assuredly!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 80.

    this has been going on for years in Thailand and surrounding countries, ok the dog was more than likely in the lunchbox rather than under the desk but hey ho

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 79.

    Let's just hope gynaecologists don't adopt the idea...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 78.

    Great article.

    But: 'Reduces stress?'

    Not always. Depends on breed.

    Try relaxing with two Jack Russells racing around the office.

    ;-

    Though they do get sleepy once in a while.

    See:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalagency/sets/72157629700768607/

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    "Bringing pet dogs to work can reduce stress "

    ===

    Not if you work in an abbatoir, I wouldn't think...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 76.

    I'm a dog-owner myself, but I don't think this is a good idea. There are enough distractions at work without adding my lively cocker spaniels that want someone to play fetch with them. Not to mention the problems of a wagging labrador tail taking out your PC's power cable.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    Friend works in a Korean restaurant.

    Always takes a dog into work.....

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 74.

    M4NCUNIA

    Are you seriously suggesting that the USA is the land of the free?? They are surely one of the most oppressed nations in the developed world! Take your dog to work and they'll use terrorism laws to violate your human rights and detain you indefinately!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    I hate dogs. If a colleague brought a dog to work I'd complain to HR then go off sick with stress.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 72.

    I can see taking a dog to work helping to reduce stress. No boss is going to come in ranting if you have a snarling pit bull sat at your feet.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 71.

    The Americans are light years ahead of us in terms of individuals' freedom. I can't even imagine how many rules and regulations would get cited against this in the UK.

    Then of course there's the PC brigade. "Not everyone likes dogs", "what about allergies", "what about people who find dogs offensive". etc etc

    England may be a land of hope and glory, but it's not a land of the free.

 

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