I’ve been writing a lot about growing small businesses lately, so I decided to expand my own by taking on an office assistant. Meet Ben, the newest member of the team.
As far as office colleagues go, his report card after an initial fortnight is mixed. On the one hand he learns quickly, especially in response to praise (or Bonios). On the other, he has neither logged in to his email nor offered to make the tea…
More seriously, it got me thinking about the concept of pets in the workplace. A US university published a study in 2012, reported by the BBC, claiming that those with access to dogs throughout the working day were less susceptible to stress. And there were other health benefits too, with even the non-dog owners often keen to take Fido out for a lunchtime walk.
This is genuinely important stuff. Whilst that study provided no definitive proof of long-term benefits, there’s clearly scope for more research.
According to PWC, absence through employee sickness costs the UK economy £29 billion every year. And I’d suggest from personal experience that rising stress levels of the many staff who don’t take sick leave still impacts productivity and isn’t captured within that figure.
How much might companies be able to drive those billions down and decrease their costs by spending a few thousand on an office doggie crèche?
My neighbour, a freelance broadcast editor, reports that it’s common for him to turn up at an edit suite and find a dog or two snoozing by the desk. He likes it, believing it has a relaxed, homely influence that inspires a helpful clarity of mind.
As everyone is asked to do ever more and companies are forced to consider the mental health of employees because it affects their bottom line, shouldn’t we try out as many ways as possible to keep our nation’s workforces happy?
In the words of Sir Richard Branson, “Look after your employees and they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: Have you ever worked anywhere that allowed pets? Do you think it’s a good idea?