The office doesn’t sound like an obvious place for a pet. But the science is saying having a dog around could keep your workplace happy and content.
Researchers who analysed 17 studies from around the world found that pet ownership has a positive effect on mental health.
People with conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder all got some relief from caring for a four-legged friend. It even staved off anxiety in children, while some evidence pointed to pet ownership lowering BMI.
The experts at the University of Liverpool said a pet provides “ontological security”. That means it gives people’s lives stability, continuity and meaning.
The scientific evidence is clear – so, obviously, if you can have a little bit of home from home at work and integrate a dog into the office, it would be good for staff well-being.
When you put a dog in a room, people can’t help but relax. Pooches create a good atmosphere, people want to interact with them, pet them, and to talk to and about them. Anxieties leech away. We’ve had days with a pup on the premises and people race to take it for a walk at lunchtime. It gets people moving and exercising and that has obvious physical and mental benefits.
Almost every interaction with a pet is positive – having one is a real boost. Pets at Home is a retailer who see real benefits in this. Its corporate responsibility programme sees the company back the charity Dogs for Good, who work with families of children on the autistic spectrum. Families report how the pet helps calm their child.
The good that a dog can do for the soul underlines that we should be talking more about mental wellness, at home, in the office, everywhere. Think about it, you get more effective outcomes if you have a happy family or a happy workplace.
Lucky people come to work because we love the work we do. But it’s when the shine is taken off, when people are not feeling tip-top – mentally or physically – that workers don’t perform to their best. So employers should be doing all they can to make sure their staff are fit to perform.
Now, no one is ever going to feel 100 per cent all of the time but if more employers provided a working environment that encourages people to check in with their mental health, that could improve – to everyone’s benefit.
Perhaps a pet on the premises isn’t for everyone or every workplace. But if you are suffering anxiety, if aspects of the job are stressing you, why not talk about it and not hide away from it? A good employer will realise that by listening to staff’s concerns and caring for their welfare, their company can only prosper.
We know a lot about health. To speak to the health marketing experts, call us on 0800 612 9890.