Could your next best hire be... a dog?
A creative look at the benefits and hard decisions that go into allowing pets in the workplace.
To whom it may concern,
Despite the banality of the greeting, the image of the friendly-faced candidate urges you to read on.
‘My name is Bella, and I am writing to you to apply for the role of office dog…’
They were our constant co companions while we've been holed up working from home during the COVID pandemic. Now as we start to head back to the office, managers and CEO’s around the world are receiving increasing numbers of applications to allow pets to come to work with us too.
Findings of a Job Seeker Study reveal workplace culture is still very important to more than a third of employees. So, contemporary employers are taking notice of the growing body of research on the ways dogs in the workplace can benefit productivity and healthy, positive office culture.
I believe my non-verbal communication skills, friendly and approachable demeanor, and ability to really listen and empathise with people will make me an excellent asset to your team…
Despite the wet tongue lolling out of her mouth, the profile image confirms that the animal indeed possesses warm and intelligent eyes.
Although the trend of bringing pets to work seems may seem like a fad, dogs have been working side-by-side with humans for thousands of years. Canines have undeniable skills in outdoor occupations such as shepherding or hunting, and their instincts for detection have been utilised for uncovering drugs, explosives, cancer, epilepsy, and even forensic tracking. Dogs are capable of learning new skills, conveying information, and like humans, they possess individual personalities and temperaments.
So how can these canine skills transfer to your workplace?
Much like considering any new hire, there are many factors to bear in mind when bringing a dog into the workplace. Research conducted by the Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group of the University of Lincoln, identified not only the size and breed of the dog as important factors to consider but that the size and type of organisation should also play significant roles in the success of a dog within a workplace.
But while not-for-profit organisations were more likely to have employees bringing their dogs to work than educational organisations, all employees who brought their dog to work often had higher rates of vigour, dedication and engagement at work than those who brought their dogs only sometimes or never.
I have obtained training certificates in obedience, and hold myself to exemplary hygiene and behavioural standards for which the provided references below will attest.
But there’s a glitch. As your eyes flick down to see the details for a puppy preschool completion certificate, you also note the lack of accreditation as an Assistance Animal.
Pets as emotional assistance
Certain pets with Assistance Animal certifications are required by the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 to be reasonably considered within a workplace when requested by an employee with a physical or mental disability. But even those of sound body and mind can reap the benefits from the unconditional love and companionship of an animal.
The Emotional Support Co is a team of specialists that advocate the physical and mental benefits of emotional support animals such as:
- Lower levels of stress
- Increased activity
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced cholesterol levels
Further experimental studies detailed last year in the Journal of Human Relations found that the presence of dogs within a group has a positive effect on the positive emotions and prosocial behaviours of the group, even increasing creativity and the effectiveness of collaboration.
However, while their benefits are undeniable, emotional support animals are not recognised to be carrying out any specific tasks to assist their owners, and as such are not protected by Australian Law in the way Assistance Animals are.
This means the decision to allow Miss Bella into your organisation lays completely in the hands of your organisation's leadership team. While the possible health and safety implications of any employees with allergies or phobias need to be considered, so too must the potential improvements to employee engagement, productivity and retention.
Like any potential candidate hire, there’s needs to be a consideration for not only workplace culture-fit but culture-add. But Miss Bella may just be the good girl your organisation needs.