April 3, 2012
Need Relief From Job Stress? Take Your Dog To Work!
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Google on Sunday unveiled the process behind their Canine Staffing Team or "Dooglers" program. According to the company website, the team looks for canine applicants with a “steady paw” that can demonstrate a history of “great teamwork within a business kennel environment.”
New research published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management from a Virginia Commonwealth University team reinforces previous studies that link the presence of pets to less stress in humans. Animals in hospitals and nursing homes have been shown to produce measurable positive results including lower blood pressures and faster recovery times for patients.
In the VCU study, researchers compared three different groups of workers: employees who bring their dogs to work, employees who do not bring their dogs to work, and employees who do not own dogs.
“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,” said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management in the VCU School of Business.
Employees at Replacements Ltd., a large china and silverware retailer, have been allowed to bring their dogs to work for several years and were chosen as the participants in the VCU study. The 400-plus employees at the company have allowed man´s best friend in the office, in the warehouse, and even in the showroom, according to CBS News. About 20 to 30 dogs are on the company premises on any given day.
The study showed that during the course of the work day, self-reported stress declined for employees with their dogs present and increased for non-pet owners and dog owners who did not bring their dogs to work. The team noted that stress notably rose during the day when owners left their dogs at home compared to days they brought them to work. The researchers did not observe a difference among the employee groups with respect to stress hormone levels, which was measured via a saliva sample taken each morning.
According to Barker, unexpected coworker interactions occurred during the study that may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction. For example, employees without a dog were seen requesting to take a co-worker´s dog out on a break. The short exchanges that often resulted in the dog being taken outside could be seen as building positive coworker relationships and increasing the amount of employees´ stress-reducing exercise.
“Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support. Of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace,” Barker said.
Besides Replacements Ltd. and Google, Amazon, Build-a-Bear, and Clif Bar are among the many other companies that allow dogs in the workplace.