“I wish there were fewer dogs here,” said (almost) no one ever. Dogs in the workplace used to be fantasy reserved for comic relief on T.V. shows, but now it’s becoming a larger reality every day. In fact, according to the Society of Human Resource Management, dogs are welcome in 8 percent of U.S. workplaces—a 46 percent increase from just 5 percent in 2013. What’s the driving force behind this growth? Simply put: Greater attention to employees’ emotional support and health make dog-friendly workplaces good business. Why?
1. They’re Furry Stress Relievers
Studies have found that the simple act of playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone, and decrease the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, which results in better overall health. Pet owners with high blood pressure have been found to exhibit signs of lower blood pressure during times of stress versus those without pets. When dogs are welcome in the workplace, it makes for calmer and more productive employees.
2. They Help Combat Depression
In a dog-friendly environment, employees are more likely to engage socially, which provides emotional support for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of depression. According to an International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study, an integral factor regarding whether or not an employee with a serious mental illness returns to work or remains employed is exposure to an environment of strong social support.
3. They Decrease Aversion to Overtime
With more and more millennials opting for canine “kids” over actual children, the needs of their dogs play a large role in their lives and employment decisions. Employees are more likely to work longer hours if they no longer need to worry about leaving to let out and feed their dog. Employees feel more “at home” at work when their favorite four-legged friend is there, too.
4. They Create Bridges Across Departments
In some business models, certain departments simply never have the opportunity to interact with one another—until a dog enters the equation. Allowing dogs in the office encourages a cross-pollination of employees that may result in an unexpected collaboration of teamwork previously unexplored.
5. They Attract More Potential Employees
From a purely practical employer perspective, a dogs-in-the-workplace policy generates a high return on investment. The fact is, the majority of people love dogs. In fact, 60.2 million U.S. households include a dog. So, whether or not potential employees personally own a dog, the likelihood is that they would prefer a work environment where dogs are not only welcome, but encouraged. A dog-friendly workplace can also prove cost-effective for employees who would otherwise need to pay a dog walker or sitter to care for Fido from 9-5.
Let Your Office Go to the Dogs
Business-savvy employers know that the key to better employee health and emotional support, quality recruitment, and long-term retention can be found by adopting a dog-friendly work environment. Not only will current employees feel more relaxed, social, collaborative, and emotionally-healthy, potential employees (specifically the coveted millennial demographic) will view your company as progressive, fun, and desirable—and that’s enough to give them paws when considering a company.