Mental Health Awareness Week: The Benefits Of Having Pets In The Workplace
This week in 2018 marks Mental Health Awareness Week, which puts mental health in the spotlight in a bid to promote good mental health and better support our own mental health and that of others. This year, Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on the theme of stress and here at RedCat, we are always thinking of ways to keep our employees happy, healthy and stress-free.
So when it comes to reducing stress in the workplace, we found a number of solutions to help combat the issue, with one solution standing high above the rest: PETS!
We’ve always been advocates of allowing pets in the workplace, with our beloved office dog Alfie being a core member of the team – Why wouldn’t we be when we have science on our side?
Benefits of Pets in the Workplace
Currently, 1/3 of UK businesses have a pet policy in place, allowing our four-legged friends into the workplace and for good reason. Research shows that allowing mans best friend into the office has plenty of benefits.
A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that dogs produced a calming influence and reduced stress levels. AND there’s a scientific reason why dogs can make you feel better when you’re stressed or anxious. Playing with or petting a dog increases your levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreases the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Having pets in the workplace can be a great opportunity for employees to bond. Many will feel a sense of responsibility with the pets in the office and want to help out where they can.
“58% of women said they reckoned their social interaction with other staff members increased when pets were in the office and 48% reported a much more positive outlook on their work.”
People in offices tend to stay seated for too long, which can reek havoc on your health, being linked to back pain, obesity, type 2 diabetes even some forms of cancer. However, a dog-friendly office presents you with the opportunity (and a constant) reminder to get up, leave the office and go for a walk on your lunch break.
Randolph Barker, lead author of a study carried out at Virginia Commonwealth University, has praised dogs for their positive impact on the workplace, boosting morale and employee performance.
He told the BBC: “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.”
A word of warning
And of course, with benefits come negatives. When bringing your pet into the office, you’ll need to remember to gain permission from your colleagues as there are many people who are allergic to animals. Bringing in your pet into the office without asking could have the opposite effect on the mental health of those around you. Itchy throat, stuffed nose and other allergy-related troubles are never fun and could impact their health and more importantly their productivity!