Though the cheery, goofy smile of your colleague brightens your day, a sweet pup’s wagging tail may make you even more productive at your gig. And happier. And less stressed. As companies evolve with a changing workforce that values job satisfaction higher than previous generations, offering incentives that set them apart from others within their industry is essential. One way to attract talent and to illustrate your appreciation for work and life balance is to open your doors to four-legged friends.

Since many pet owners adore their ‘kids’, the ability to take them into the office provides more flexibility, saves money on walkers and has the added perk of making other teammates excited for a belly rub. If you’re trying to make a case for a dog-friendly office, consider these proven benefits that um — bark — the message loud and clear:

Dogs in the workplace provide significant improvement in mental health

Given the long overtime hours, the demands of clients across every timezone and an increased pressure to perform, many of today’s professionals feel stressed. In fact, according to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, nearly half of all workers feel overworked. This is, of course, bad news for employees but also for businesses.

“American businesses lose hundreds of billions of dollars annually as a result of stress-induced costs like decreases in productivity and employee absences from work. The benefits that dogs have on easing workplace stress are a major reason why we’re seeing an increase in dog-friendly offices across the country, including at Fortune 500 companies,” Rover’s head of people, Jovana Teodorovic shares.

Considering a study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that simply petting a dog for a few minutes helps your body release happy hormones like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, the mere presence of a pup could make a difference. Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume, says these hormones are known to reduce our stress, increase our ability to relax, and overall, improve our mood. This means patting a cutie on the head will have your heart rate slowing down, and your blood pressure lowering.

Dogs in the office drive recruitment competitiveness

Though a record-low unemployment rate speaks volumes for the workforce, it also forces companies to overcome unique challenges they have yet to face. As Teodorovic says, retention and competitiveness in recruiting is a top priority — and one that absolutely requires creativity. If one gig allows a dog owner to bring their furry best friend to the office and another one doesn’t, it could be a deciding factor on whether or not they accept the offer.

“In addition to the perks of being a dog-friendly office, companies that go a step further and offer dog-perks like pet insurance and on-campus dog parks can create a competitive advantage against competitors,” she adds.

Dogs make you happier with your job

If you’ve ever owned a pet — or if you’re a parent to a human — you know how much of your mental space is taken up with worrying. Not only do you want these children of all kinds to be healthy and happy but you feel a tremendous amount of guilt if you feel as if you aren’t giving them the very best, tail-wagging life.

Augustine says research has found employees who bring their pups to work reported higher levels of job satisfaction and had a more positive perception of their employer.  “Many pet owners consider their fur babies to be full-fledged family members. It’s no wonder that when employers allow their teams to bring their pups to work, it results in happier and more loyal employees,” she shares.

Dogs contribute to a welcoming, healthy office culture

If employees associate feelings of dread, anxiety or stress with their gig, they probably won’t enjoy being in the office. And more so, they won’t invest in their teammates or their projects as thoroughly. But if an employer pays attention to the needs of those investing in their bottom line and decide to offer dog perks? That changes the entire dynamic of the company, according to Teodorovic.

“Creating a culture that is welcoming, productive and inclusive of dogs  — something that is considered both convenient and valuable to pet owners — contributes to a positive and healthy workplace environment. Company culture is key in today’s job market, and it’s generally one of the top considerations for prospective employees when they’re deciding between offers,” she explains.

Dogs improve productivity

Augustine says that while the novelty of an office dog (or dogs) is sure to cause some initial distraction, a Virginia Commonwealth University study found that dog-friendly workplaces actually experienced increased levels of productivity.

“This makes sense when you consider that multiple studies have shown that taking short breaks throughout the workday — whether it’s for a game of fetch during lunch or to stop and give a pooch a good scratch behind the ear — helps employees regain their focus and energy, preventing that common mid-afternoon slump,” she shares.

Originally Published on The Ladders.

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