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Pets in the workplace

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Could our furry friends be the key to better mental health in the workplace?

Pets in the workplace

Do you have a pet friendly work place? Everyone who has a pet wishes they didn’t have to say goodbye to their furry friends and leave them for a day of work, so what if more workplaces were open to taking on a few new employees?

Research has time and again, proved that pets, especially dogs, have an innate ability to promote wellbeing and increase mental health, so surely it would make sense for employers to welcome these abilities in the workplace.

New research by APD confirms these initial findings, indicating that employees who complete their daily work tasks alongside their pet, reported lower stress levels and fewer moments of  dread or feeling overwhelmed.

The results showed that a lucky 30 per cent of Australians, compared to 22 per cent of New Zealanders, are already reaping the benefits of having their pets at work.

According to HR managers, when pets are present in the workplace, the general satisfaction levels rise: 52 per cent of employees report more frequent feelings of happiness, 48 per cent have a more positive association with work and 44 per cent feel more relaxed.

Animal behaviourist Dr Jo Righetti, shares her top tips for having pets in the workplace.

What are the main things a pet owner has to be wary of when bringing their pet into work?

The pet owner must ensure that their employer is aware of their intention to bring in their pet and that the environment is set up for this. It helps to have a well thought through ‘Pets at Work’ policy and induction process for all staff members. Any staff with allergies or fear of pets must be considered, as must each animal’s ability to handle the environment of the workplace.

What are your top tips for making it a smooth transition into the workplace for your pet?

Be prepared! In addition to your pet, take all your pet’s needs along with you, including a bed for your dog, a cat carry-case for your cat, plus a litter tray or poo bags. Collars, leads, treats and water bowls are necessities and it may help to have some cleaning materials, just in case of ‘accidents’.

Seek the help of your pet-loving colleague to mind your dog if you have a (pet-free) meeting, need a toilet break or have to enter a food-preparation area where pets are not welcome. Be prepared to take breaks to walk your dog and be mindful of everyone else trying to get their work done. Chances are your pet will get a lot of attention, so ensure that they are comfortable in their environment.

How would you recommend someone approach this with their workplace or boss?

Download Purina’s ‘Pet-Friendly Office Toolkit’, by visiting Purina ‘Pets At Work’. This outlines all the steps necessary and addresses commonly asked questions when preparing to make the workplace pet-friendly. Be prepared, before you approach your boss, with some case studies that show how pets how been positively integrated into the office and remember to chat about all the benefits that pets can bring.

Preparing your pet

Be prepared that the first time a pet comes to work, it is quite a novelty and they will very likely get inundated with attention. Make sure they get some rest time. Things settle down quickly and with time and repetition, the workplace soon becomes a pet-friendly, people-happy, productive place to be! Enjoy your pets at work!

Pets at Work day is 4 August! We would love to see your snaps of you and your pet at work. 

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