Let’s face it. No matter how much you enjoy your job and your workplace, you cannot escape work stress that easily. Stress is a common thing in workplaces, and it is the number one reason for employee unproductivity and negativity in the work environment.
Chronic workplace stress is also the number one reason why so many people are leaving their jobs nowadays.
However, while most managers are busy finding ways to motivate their employees to do a good job by boosting their creativity, organizing fun team-building events, creating work environments that are open, trusting and fun, they are forgetting the most important thing.
Animals. Yep, you read it right. The forget about the effect a tiny, furry friend can have on humans. Having an office pet is the newest and cutest trend around the world, and let me just say this… It was about time!
Research from the Virginia Commonwealth University explained that having a dog or a cat at work does not only lowers the employees stress levels but also strengthens their will for work and boosts their overall productivity and creativity.
“There might be a benefit here,” Randolph Barker, a business professor at VCU and lead author on the study, said. “It’s a low-cost wellness benefit, and it could be a recruiting opportunity (for businesses).”
The participants of the research were 76 employees from the dinnerware manufacturing company in Greensboro, North Carolina, Replacements, Ltd. They were classified into 3 different groups. Eighteen of them brought their dogs to the office every day, 38 owned dogs but didn’t bring them in the office and 19 of them didn’t even have any pets.
The researchers wanted to prove that there is indeed a drastic difference in the cortisol levels after spending some time around an animal. Therefore, they decided to start their research by taking a saliva sample early in the morning from every participant in order to determine the levels of cortisol (a hormone that measures stress) in each and every one of the participants.
At first, there were no evident differences in their stress levels. But after a while, they took another round of samples and they finally found noticeable differences between the ones who had their dogs around them and those who didn’t interact with a pet.
Researchers also asked the participants to report their stress levels four times during their workday and found that the workers who brought their pets to work were considerably much calmer and relaxed than the ones who didn’t have pets. The most stressed of all the participants were the ones who actually left their pets at home.
“Dogs were a communication energizer,” Barker said. Dogs in the office tended to spark conversations between those with and without pets, and “people who didn’t typically talk to one another, were now more engaged” with dogs in the office, Barker said.
The thing that surprised the researchers the most was the fact that half of those who brought their dogs to work actually reported big increase in productivity, while the rest of them didn’t report anything new or remarkable in their daily, work routine.
All in all, the study’s findings proved that office pets do not only increase employees’ stress level but also have a very positive effect on their productivity.
However, according to Randolph Barker, Business professor at VCU, before enacting pets in the office policy, it is important for the companies to consider a few crucial issues, such as employee’s allergies and tolerance to animals, whether or not the pets are well-behaved and also whether or not the organizational culture of the company agrees with that policy.
So, there you have it. Next time you feel like you’ve lost all your concentration and motivation to work, try asking your boss if they’d allow you to bring your furry friend to work with you.
I guarantee you, it will do the trick!