Pets improve the bottom line |

Pets improve the bottom line

In a competitive marketplace, employee benefits can make the difference in attracting the best and brightest. However, the lackluster economy has human resources folks scrambling to find value added benefits on the cheap. That’s why a new study from Virginia Commonwealth University is being written up in a variety of both business and scientific journals, causing a general buzz. Stress and productivity are universal workplace issues. Now, science confirms that simply bringing a pet to work not only decreases stress but also increases productivity.

The official release from VCU explains that dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact. The VCU researchers compared employees who bring their dogs to work, employees who do not bring their dogs to work and employees without pets in the areas of stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and support. “Although preliminary, this study provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employees’ pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support and commitment,” according to principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management in the VCU School of Business.

“Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” he said. “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.” Baker suggests that “Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support. 

According to an American Pet Products Manufacturers Association national poll, nearly 20 percent of Americans report that their workplaces permit pets. These sites include no less than Google and the U.S. Congress, both House and Senate. According to the APPMA, almost one in five companies (17 percent) in the United States allows pets in the workplace; 75 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace makes people happier; 41 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace helps co-workers get along better. Further, an APPMA survey of businesses allowing pets in the workplace confirmed the benefits: 73 percent of the companies surveyed said pets create a more productive work environment; 27 percent reported a decrease in employee absenteeism; 73 percent indicated pets led to a more productive work environment.; 96 percent said pets created positive work relations; 58 percent of employees stayed late with pets in the office. A like survey in England indicated that more than 90 percent of employers allowing dogs noticed a positive change in the working environment. Half found that there was a decrease in absenteeism, two-thirds said pets on site improved staff morale. To encourage more companies to consider the pet option, Pet Sitters International began designating a Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1999. The event is the fourth Friday in June and thousands of businesses participate. 

Other pet-related employee benefits include expense allowance for petsitters while on business travel, pet insurance, bereavement leave including loss of a pet, and at large employer campuses, on site dog walking service and cat and dog grooming. For information on creating pets-at-work policies, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA at (530) 542-2857.

– Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Soceity for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.

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