Pets reduce stress at work

The Weekend Sun assistant editor Cayla-Fay Saunders’ choodle Mia brought some smiles to the workplace.

There were lots of ‘oohs' and ‘ahs' and ‘isn't she cute' comments floating around The Weekend Sun office last week when assistant editor Cayla-Fay Saunders brought her dog to work for the day.

Even the most hardened journo had to crack a smile at Mia the choodle – a fluffy little Chihuahua poodle cross.

July 7 is Pets at Work Day – an event organised by Nestle Purina PetCare with the support of the SPCA and the Mental Health Foundation to inspire more organisations to experience the benefits of bringing pets to work.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson believes the extensive benefits pets have as stress-relievers in the workplace is a compelling reason for organisations to consider becoming pet-friendly.

"Studies have shown that having pets in the office reduces stress and increases productivity. People who work in offices with pets also report finding their colleagues friendlier and more approachable.” 

According to a recent study conducted by Purina, the top benefits of a pet-friendly workplace include smiling more, enhanced employee engagement, motivation and likability. More than 60 per cent of employees agreed they liked their employers more because they offered them this benefit.

In New Zealand, it is estimated that almost half a million Kiwis already enjoy a pet-friendly workplace, but there are many more people who currently can't bring their pets, and would like to see that changed.

Nestle Purina New Zealand head of marketing Jennifer Chappell is hoping that in 2017 more organisations will embrace pets at work, even if just for the day. 

"We love coming to work every day with our furry friends and we wish more people could have the opportunity to experience it for themselves. Having pets at work helps us to relax, laugh more and get some fresh air during the day. It highlights our core belief that pets and people are better together, including in the workplace.”

In the lead-up to the day, a video has been produced which features four Kiwi workplaces and why having pets at work is better for both people and their pets.

Royal New Zealand SPCA acting CEO Andrea Midgen is featured in the video and says that pet-friendly workplaces are as much a benefit to pets as they are to people. 

"Animals love interaction and companionship, so bringing them to work allows them to meet new people, experience new situations and spend some quality time with their owner.”

Pets are considered welcome in a wide variety of businesses across NZ. More than one in 10 (13 per cent) of employees who worked for an employer of 200 plus staff had a pet-friendly policy and 17 per cent of retail businesses are happy to include pets in the workplace.

Timeout bookstore manager Jenna Todd is also featured in the video with Lucinda the cat and says Lucinda provides many locals – young and old – with the sort of company and affection they might be missing.

If you're interested in what is involved in having pets at work visit www.purina.co.nz/better-with-pets/pets-at-work/ for handy documents around authorisation, safety and etiquette. 

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