Managers who are having trouble with employee productivity and morale might benefit from an "office animal." A 2012 study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University analyzed how pets in the workplace affect employees physiologically and psychologically, and found that having an office pet makes people more pleasant and productive.
The study involved 76 employees from the Greensboro, N.C.-based Replacements, Ltd. The employees were divided into two groups, with and without dogs. Saliva samples taken from each participant measured their stress levels at the beginning and end of the day. The results showed that pets equal positivity. Employees with an in-office pet experienced an 11 percent drop in stress levels by the end of the day, as opposed to the 70 percent stress spike noted in those who went without an office animal.
In the years since the study was published, pet-friendly workspaces have become more prevalent. In 2013, only five percent of companies allowed their employees to bring their pets to work. That number has grown to eight percent in the past two years.
Pets in the workplace have become more appreciated, and in 1999 the United States adopted Take Your Dog to Work Day. The annual holiday takes place the Friday after Father's Day and encourages the inclusion of workplace pups in environments that may otherwise discourage such visitors. Employees can now experience the benefits of having a dog at work, even if for just a day!
More and more, companies are discovering what us pet owners knew all along: We really, really love our pets. The number of employers that offer pet insurance as a company benefit has grown over the past 15 years. Chipotle implemented pet insurance in 2002, MGM added it in 2006 and many other companies are following suit. A 2015 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that nine percent of companies offer some sort of pet insurance to their employees. According to BARk, Amazon has between 24 to 36 dogs in the office on any given day. It comes as no surprise that Amazon also offers pet insurance.
To further support the pro-pup movement, Central Michigan University's 2010 study proved an animal presence in the office made collaboration between teams more effective. Conducting two experiments, they found that when a dog was present, team members ranked each other higher on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy.
Many West Michigan employers are seeing the beneift pets can bring to their staff, as well.
"Our resident furry friend is named Jimmy and he helps to relieve stress and give us much-needed brain breaks. Overall, he helps us focus and ups our happiness levels," said Kim Bode, principal of 834 Design & Marketing in Grand Rapids. "Clients love him, too, so maybe he helps us retain clients? Just a thought."
Written by, Eastown Veterinary Clinic, located in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The practice is committed to promoting responsible pet ownership, preventive health care and health-related educational opportunities for its clients.
Courtesy of Kim Bode, principal of 834 Design & Marketing, an award-winning Communication Strategy, Event Planning, Social Media, Media Relations and Design firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was borne from Kim's passion for communications and over a decade of experience in strategic planning, marketing communications, public relations, event planning and community outreach. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, she received her degree in communications. Kim currently resides in the Grand Rapids Community with her husband, Josh, and her four rescue dogs, Bentley, Murphy, Apollo and Jimmy.