Employers: looking to keep your employees productive?
Employees: interested in a stress-free, happy work environment?
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business may have found a tail-wagging method for both. According to a recent preliminary study published in the InternationalJournal of Workplace Health Management, dogs in the workplace can help sooth workers and actually improve their efficiency.
Randolph Barker (yes, that is his real name), a professor of management at VCU, analyzed the results of three test groups: workers who had dogs in their workspace, personnel who left their pups at home and employees who did not own a mutt. In all, 75 workers’ stress levels and work productivity were studied, with fascinating findings.
“People who brought their dogs during the day, their stress stayed low and continued low during the day,” Barker says. “People who had dogs but didn’t bring them with them to the office, their stress continued to rise significantly higher than those who brought the dogs and those who had no pets.”
And the employees without pets? They experienced increased stress, but not nearly as high as the dog owners’ without man’s best friend at work.
While the dogs pacified grueling days at work, the findings also suggested, to some extent, the hounds actually improved work productivity. About half of the group who brought the dogs to their work station reported their presence improved their work output, while the other half maintained that their work production was unchanged, Barker says.
Barker says the mutts had a slightly more tangible effect, too: increased work socialization. “The dogs became a communication energizer,” he says. “They became that connection that helped people talk to each other.”
The verdict is still out on the impact of cats. Barker means no disrespect to feline-philes — he can only cover one animal at a time.
Will petting the office dog replace smoking breaks? “What’s interesting is that there’s so much stress that contributes to burnout and chronic diseases,” notes Barker. “Pet presence can serve as a low-cost wellness center.”