A study finds that your four-legged companion can be a great stressreliever at work and encourage better relationships with co-workers too.
If you’re a pet person, there’s probably nothing you’d like more than to take your four-legged buddy to work with you. And if the latest research is any indication, you’d probably be a lot happier and less stressed on the job if you did.
In a preliminary study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, scientists found that people who took their dogs to work reported lower stress throughout the day than employees without pets or those who had pets but didn’t take them to work.
Many previous studies have linked the presence of pets with less stress and better health. In studies in hospitals and nursing homes, for example, animals, whether on short visits or longer stays, have contributed to lower blood pressure, faster recovery from surgery and even improvements in depression for patients. So Randolph Barker, a professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, wondered how much benefit employees could get from having a furry friend with them on the job.
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Barker conducted his study at Replacements Ltd., a company in Greensboro, N.C., that provides retail, repair and manufacturing services. For the past 15 years, the company has allowed employees to take their dogs to work with them, and at any given time, about 20 to 30 dogs wander the premises, from the reception desk to the manufacturing areas. For their weeklong study, Barker and his team recruited 75 employees to participate. Each morning upon waking, the employees took their own saliva samples, so scientists could measure their cortisol, or stress hormone, levels. The participants also completed surveys about their stress levels four times a day.
Dog owners who took their pets to work were asked to take their pets every other day, so the scientists could compare their stress levels on days the dogs were present and on the days they weren’t.
Overall, Barker found that employees who took their pets to work had the lowest stress, with scores on a standardized test that were consistently 10 to 20 points lower than those of employees who didn’t take their dogs to work or who didn’t own pets at all. Dog owners who took their pets to work showed slightly higher stress levels on days they weren’t allowed to take their companion with them.
Interestingly, those with the highest stress scores were pet owners who did not take their dog to work. Their scores were more than twice as high as employees who took their animals to the workplace.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.