Man's best friend is also a great stress buster in the workplace, according to research.
Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University have discovered that dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact.
Stress is a major contributor to employee absenteeism, morale and burnout and results in significant loss of productivity and resources. But a preliminary study found that dogs make a positive difference in the workplace by reducing stress and making the job more satisfying for the employees.
Researchers experimented on 450 people in Replacements Ltd, a retail business located in Greensboro, NC. The 450 people were divided into three employee groups on stress hormone levels, which were measured via a saliva sample, in the morning, but 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.
Approximately 20 to 30 dogs are on the company premises each day. The study took place over a period of one work week in the company setting, during which time participants completed surveys and collected saliva samples.
Researchers compared employees who bring their dogs to work, employees who do not bring their dogs to work and employees without pets in the areas of stress, job satisfaction, organisational commitment and support.
Researchers found that the team who got their dogs to their workplace had lower level of the stress levels compared to the team who did not get their dogs.
"Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference," said Randolph T Barker, Ph D, professor of management in the VCU School of Business. "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."
According to researchers, they observed unique dog-related communication in the workplace that may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction. For example, he said, although not part of the study, employees without a dog were observed requesting to take a co-worker's dog out on a break. These were brief, positive exchanges as the dogs were taken and returned and also resulted in an employee break involving exercise.
Researchers say further study with larger sample sizes within the organizational setting is needed to prove that dogs are the best stress busters in the workplace.