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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a preliminary study of the effect of the presence at work of employees' dogs on stress and organizational perceptions. Design/methodology/approach A pre‐post between‐group design with repeated measures was used to compare differences between employees who bring their dogs to work (DOG group), employees who do not bring their dogs to work (NODOG group), and employees without pets (NOPET group) on physiological and perceived stress, perceptions of job satisfaction, organizational affective commitment, and perceived organizational support. Findings Combined groups scored significantly higher on multiple job satisfaction subscales than the reference norm group for these scales. No significant differences were found between the groups on physiological stress or perceived organizational support. Although perceived stress was similar at baseline; over the course of the day, stress declined for the DOG group with their dogs present and increased for the NODOG and NOPET groups. The NODOG group had significantly higher stress than the DOG group by the end of the day. A significant difference was found in the stress patterns for the DOG group on days their dogs were present and absent. On dog absent days, owners' stress increased throughout the day, mirroring the pattern of the NODOG group. Originality/value This paper provides the first quantitative exploratory study of the effects of pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress and perceptions of satisfaction, support and commitment.
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Contact person:
Dr. Randolph T. Barker
School of Business, Snead Hall
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia 23284-4000
Dr. Janet. S. Knisely
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Sandra B. Barker
Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Rachel K. Cobb
Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Nursing
Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Christine M. Schubert
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, AFIT/ENC
Air Force Institute of Technology
Author note: The authors would like to thank the leadership and study participants of
Replacements, Ltd. for their participation in this research project.
Barker, R. T., Knisely, J. S., Barker, S. B., Cobb, R. K., Schubert, C. M. (2012)
Preliminary investigation of employee's dog presence on stress and
organizational perceptions, International Journal of Workplace Health
Management, 5:1 pp. 15 - 30
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a preliminary study of the effect of
employees’ dogs presence at work on stress and organizational perceptions.
Design/methodology/approach A pre-post between-group design with repeated
measures was used to compare differences between employees who bring their dogs to
work (DOG group), employees who do not bring their dogs to work (NODOG group),
and employees without pets (NOPET group) on physiological and perceived stress,
perceptions of job satisfaction, organizational affective commitment, and perceived
organizational support.
Findings Combined groups scored significantly higher (p<0.0001) on multiple job
satisfaction subscales than the reference norm group for these scales. No significant
differences were found between the groups on physiological stress or perceived
organizational support. Although perceived stress was similar at baseline; over the
course of the day, stress declined for the DOG group with their dogs present and
increased for the NODOG and NOPET groups. The NODOG group had significantly
higher stress (p<0.005) than the DOG group by the end of the day. A significant
difference (p<0.02) was found in the stress patterns for the DOG group on days their
dogs were present and absent. On dog absent days, owners’ stress increased
throughout the day, mirroring the pattern of the NODOG group.
Research limitations/implications The small sample of employees who volunteered
for study participation limits the generalizability of these findings. Future organizational
research can utilize both the design and preliminary findings to assess the wellness
impact, benefits and limitations of pets in the workplace.
Practical applications Preliminary findings suggest pet dogs in the workplace may
buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and may also contribute
to higher job satisfaction for all employees in the organization, regardless of dog or pet
Originality/value This paper provides the first quantitative exploratory study of the
effects of pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress and perceptions of
satisfaction, support and commitment.
Keywords Pets in the workplace; employee stress, support, commitment, satisfaction
Paper type Research paper
Organizations continue to be aware of the importance of employee satisfaction,
commitment, and perceived organizational support (Allen and Meyer, 1990, Aubé et al.,
2007, Barker, 2005, Eisenberger et al., 1986, Meyer and Allen, 1997, Spector, 1997).
Many factors can influence employee perceptions of the workplace (Abbott, 2008,
Falkenburg and Schyns, 2007, Foote et al., 2005, Jain et al., 2009, McShane and Von
Gilnow, 2010). A growing trend to allow pets in hospitals, nursing homes, and other
health care facilities is spreading to companies that report positive anecdotal reactions
by employees and customers. The reactions are consistent with human-animal
interaction research supporting the role of pets as a form of nonevaluative social
support which may extend to the workplace to enhance interpersonal interactions,
positively affect employee morale and turnover, and reduce stress reactions.
Pet ownership has been associated with a number of positive health outcomes,
including increased survival one-year after a heart attack (Friedmann and Thomas,
1995), fewer doctor visits (Headey, 1999, Siegel, 1990, Headey et al., 2002), less
loneliness and greater social support (Headey, 1999), and emotional closeness and
support (Barker and Barker, 1988, Barker et al., 1997). An increasing number of studies
support the premise that pets, by providing a nonevaluative form of social support,
buffer the impact of stress for their owners. In a study measuring cardiovascular stress
reactivity following a stress task completed in the presence of a pet dog or a close
friend, researchers reported lower physiological indicators of stress in female dog
owners when the pet was present (Allen et al., 1991). In a related study, investigators
studied cardiovascular stress reactivity in married couples with and without pets and
reported couples with pets had lower blood pressure and heart rate at rest and lower
systolic blood pressure and heart rate during a mental stress task (Allen et al., 2002).
Similar benefits were reported in a randomized controlled trial in which hypertensive
stock brokers starting medication to treat hypertension were randomly assigned to
acquire a pet dog or cat or to a wait list control (Allen et al., 2001). After six months,
those owning pets performed better on mental stress tasks and demonstrated lower
physiological response to stress compared with the control group.
Using cortisol as a measure of physiological stress, other researchers found a
significant reduction in salivary cortisol in healthcare providers after as little as 5
minutes interacting with an unfamiliar therapy dog (Barker et al., 2005). A more recent
study explored response patterns of multiple indicators of physiological stress in dog
owners interacting with their own or an unfamiliar therapy dog following a stress task
(Barker et al., 2010). Results showed similar patterns consistent with stress following
the mental stress task and relaxation during and following the dog interaction. Of
particular interest was the similarity in relaxation patterns seen whether adults
interacted with their own or an unfamiliar therapy dog.
While an increasing number of organizations are permitting pets in the workplace, an
extensive literature review identified only one published study on the effect of pet
presence on employees or the organization. Using an author-developed questionnaire,
the authors surveyed employee perceptions in several small companies permitting pets
(Wells and Perrine, 2001). The overwhelming majority (84%) of those bringing pets to
work in these companies consisted of business owners or managers. The most strongly
endorsed benefit of having pets in the workplace was perceived lowering of stress,
although some endorsement of improved health and organizational satisfaction were
also noted. Aside from this one survey (not conducted within the organization setting)
little is known about the benefits of permitting pets in the workplace to employees or to
the organization. If the buffering effect of pets on stress reactions found in other settings
extends to the workplace, pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention
readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction
and perceptions of support.
The importance of research investigating organizational satisfaction, organizational
commitment, and organizational support is well documented (Abbott, 2008, Fischer and
Sousa-Poza, 2009, Meyer and Allen, 1997, Michael et al., 2009, Ramlall, 2008, Rayton,
2006, Rego et al., 2004, Van Knippenberg and Sleebos, 2006, Way and MacNeil, 2006,
Siegel, 1990). Research extending the study of perceived organizational support and
commitment to their relationship to psychological well-being, revealed affective
organizational commitment to be a mediator of the positive relationship between
perceived organizational support and well-being (Panaccio and Vandenberghe, 2009).
Aubé, et al (2007) emphasizes the importance of the relationship between employee
perceived support and affective commitment to the organization. They note the need
for organizational structures that increase perceived control and, thereby contribute to
employees’ affective commitment.
Muse et al (2008) were also interested in the relationship of organizational support and
commitment and the well-being aspects of positive organizational behavior. They report
that in supporting employees with work-life benefits, employees taking part in and
appreciating these benefits “is part of a positive exchange between the employee and
employer. This exchange is positively related to employees' feelings of perceived
organizational support and affective commitment to the organization and reciprocation
in the form of higher levels of task and contextual performance behaviorspp 29.
Related to well-being, Fischer and Sousa-Poza (2009) found an important relationship
between job satisfaction and subjective health measures, suggesting that employees
with higher job satisfaction levels feel healthier and are more satisfied with their health.
While a significant amount of interest and research has focused on these organizational
variables, and accumulating evidence supports the health benefits of human- animal
interaction, there is a lack of organizational research combining these foci. The current
study was conducted with the following purposes in mind.
The purpose of this study was to investigate employees’ stress and organizational
perceptions within an organization setting that permits pets in the workplace. The
specific aims were to:
1. assess employee base physiological stress levels and perceived stress during the
2. assess employee perceptions of job satisfaction, organizational commitment and
3. compare differences in physiological and perceived stress and organizational
perceptions between dog owners who bring their dogs to work, dog owners who choose
not to bring their dogs to work, and non-pet owners and;
4. compare employee organizational perceptions with established norms.
Since pet attitude was found to be negatively associated with physiological and self-
reported stress in an earlier study (Barker et al., 2010) , it was included as a moderating
variable in the current study.
The study took place at Replacements, Ltd., a service-manufacturing-retail company
located in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States, which employs approximately 550
people. For over 15 years, the company has permitted employees to bring their dogs to
work. Approximately 20 to 30 dogs are on the company premises each day. The study
design and protocol were approved by the investigators’ Institutional Review Board for
the Protection of Human Subjects.
All study participants were full-time employees working the day shift. After obtaining
permission from the organization’s leadership team, three groups of employees were
recruited for this study: employees eligible to bring their dogs to work under company
policies (DOG group); employees who own dogs but don’t bring them to work (NODOG
group), and employees who do not own pets (NOPET group). As an incentive to
complete all aspects of the study, all participants completing the study were entered into
a random drawing of two $100 gift cards at study completion.
A target sample size of 30 per group was determined from power analysis using salivary
cortisol as the exemplar. A sample size of 30 subjects per group is adequate for
detecting between group differences with 80% power at alpha = 0.05. Study inclusion
criteria were 21 years of age or older, ability to understand and speak English, capability
to provide informed consent, and planned presence at work during all study days.
Employee participation was strictly voluntary and their decision whether to participate
had no impact on their standing within the organization.
Pet Attitude Scale (PAS). The Pet Attitude Scale (Templer et al., 1981) was used to
assess general attitudes towards animals. The 18 items rated by respondents indicate
current agreement with statements related to pets, such as “I would like to have a pet in
my home”, using a seven-point Likert- scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly
disagree.” Items correlate at least 0.50 with the total Scale (Templer et al., 1981).
Cronbach’s alpha coefficient is reported to be 0.93.
Employee Organizational Perceptions. The Employee Organizational Perceptions
Survey (EOPS), named by the first author for ease of reference for the participants,
consisted of three published scales totaling 53 items that measure 1) affective
commitment, 2) perceived organizational support, and 3) job satisfaction.
The eight-item Affective Commitment Scale developed by (Allen and Meyer, 1990),
assesses employee emotional attachment, identification, and involvement in the
organization. Items are evaluated using a seven-point Likert- scale ranging from
strongly agree to strongly disagree. Reported internal consistency is relatively high with
Cronbach alphas ranging from .77 to .88.
The Perceived Organizational Support Scale, developed by Eisenberger, et al (1986)
includes seventeen-items that assess employee’s perception of the organization’s value
of the employee and the organization’s action affecting the employee’s well being. Items
are evaluated using a seven-point Likert- scale ranging from strongly disagree to
strongly agree. Internal consistency is relatively high with Cronbach alphas ranging
from .74 to .95 (Moorman et al., 1998; Wayne et al., 1997).
The Job Satisfaction Survey (Spector, 1985; Spector, 1997) and its nine subscales
consist of 36 items that measure employee satisfaction in job facets of communication,
pay, promotion, supervision, benefits, rewards, operating procedures, co-workers and
work itself. A six-point Likert- scale ranging from disagree very much to agree very
much is used to evaluate the items. Internal consistency is high with a reported
Cronbach alpha of .89 (Blau, 1999).
Stress Visual Analog Scale (VAS). A VAS was used to collect subjects’ present levels
of self-reported stress (SVAS). Stress on the SVAS is defined as one’s response to
demanding or unpleasant stimuli or conditions. The scale was 15 cm long and anchored
at each end with descriptors of “none” to “the most severe imaginable.” VASs are
widely used self report measures with high levels of compliance and acceptable
reliability and validity in assessing a wide range of health outcomes; including pain
(Ahles et al., 1984), anxiety (Barker et al., 2003), feelings (Aitken, 1969), and mood
(Ahearn, 1997). The authors have used similar scales successfully in assessing the
effect of animal-assisted therapy on stress in adults (Barker et al., 2010).
Salivary Cortisol. Cortisol is well known to increase with stress and reflect
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity and, thus, is often selected as a measure
of physiological stress. A single salivary cortisol sample taken at awakening has been
shown to be as good as taking multiple samples throughout the day in providing an
indicator of overall cortisol production (Yehuda et al., 2003). The saliva collection
system is termed the Filter Assay System for Testing of Saliva (FAST-Saliva). Grade 42
Whatman filter papers were used for saliva collections and involved placing a pre-
labeled filter paper in the mouth, allowing it to become saturated for 20 seconds, and
returning it to its pre-labeled glassine mini-bag for storage.
Demographic information was requested at the end of the survey, followed by two
questions to gather perceived impressions of productivity related to dog presence, one
question worded for those who bring their dog to work and the other for those who do
not bring their dog to work or do not have pets but are exposed to dogs in the
workplace. A final open ended request for other general comments about how dogs in
the workplace affect them was included at the end of the survey.
Replacements, Ltd. is a fast paced for profit work environment and during discussions
with management, the researchers were made aware of limitations on employee time
availability for the study. The study design and procedures were developed with these
limitations in mind. All company employees were recruited by a written invitation from
the researchers, disseminated through company communications. The investigators
sent recruitment letters to all employees inviting those interested in participating in the
study to attend informational meetings that were conducted on site by three (3) of the
study investigators one week prior to initiating the study. All of the eligible employees
(those working on-site each day during the study) attending the informational meeting
agreed to participate with the exception of dog owners who did not want to leave their
pets at home on two days as the study required. Informed consent was completed at
the meeting and participants were classified according to group.
The study took place over a period of one work week in the company setting. On
Monday of the study week, the investigators met with each of the three (3) groups and
collected written demographic information, administered the Pet Attitude and
Organizational Perceptions Surveys, and provided written instructions and materials for
collecting saliva samples and completing the Stress Visual Analog Scale (VAS). A
pager was then assigned to each participant. Instructions were given to participants as
to how to use the pager during the study. The pagers were programmed to prompt
subjects to complete the VAS at 4 specific times during the study days (between 7:30
and 8:30 AM, 10:30 11:30 AM, 1:30 2:30 PM, 4:00 5:00 PM). Participants were
instructed on how to collect saliva samples, 30 minutes after awakening, and not to eat,
drink, or smoke prior to collecting the specimen.
Subjects in the DOG group were instructed to bring their dog to work on Tuesday and
Thursday (study days 1 and 3) and not bring their dog to work on Wednesday and
Friday (study days 2 and 4). DOG group participants were instructed to collect saliva
samples on each of the 4 study days and to bring the samples to work in the specimen
envelopes provided. In order to make comparisons with the DOG group on dog present
days, the NODOG and NOPET groups were instructed to collect saliva on Tuesday and
Thursday. All three groups were instructed to complete the VAS when paged on their
respective study days. Saliva samples and completed VAS were delivered to a
researcher on site each study day. At the end of the last study day, a random
participant drawing was held for the two gift cards with the names of all subjects
completing the study. Although offering gift cards could potentially bias subject
participation, this was minimized by not announcing the gift card drawing until
employees interested in the study were already present at the initial meeting.
Analyses. Salivary cortisol was eluted from the filter paper using measured volumes of
Salimetrics assay buffer. The filers were precisely pre-marked and cut at the minimal
saturation point to enable a standard saliva-saturation area for elution process. Cortisol
concentration in eluted samples was determined using a commercially available high
sensitivity ELISA kit (Salimetrics, LLC). The manufacturer reports that the assay
accurately measures cortisol in the range of 0.19-49.66 nm/l.
Summary statistics (means, standard deviations) were computed for all measures
collected. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for significant differences
between the three groups. The null hypothesis was that the mean response was the
same between all three groups. Responses considered separately were: affective
commitment, job satisfaction, perceived organizational support, salivary cortisol, and
stress. Statistical significance was evaluated at the overall 0.05 level. If statistical
significance was found in at least one of the responses (i.e., not all means are equal),
Tukey’s pairwise comparison procedure was used to determine which of the three
means differed and to estimate to what extent they differed. Analysis of Covariance
(ANCOVA) was used to adjust the analysis for appropriate covariates such as Pet
Attitude Scale and pet ownership, and repeated measurements on the Stress VAS in
order to examine trends over time within the same group as well as between groups.
Comparisons to norm values for job satisfaction subscale scores and perceived
organizational support were made using T-tests, corrected for multiple comparisons, for
each scale and subscale score computed from the study sample, overall and by group
(DOG, NODOG, and NOPET). Comparisons on Self-Reported Stress between groups
(DOG, NODOG and NOPET) as well as comparisons within DOG group (days with and
without Dog) were made by combining the data for each group into an average VAS
from both collection days: days 1 and 3 for DOG (with dogs at work), days 2 and 4 for
the DOG group (when they were without their dog), and days 1 and 3 for the NODOG
and NOPET groups. Random effects regression models were applied in order to
account for the repeated measurements with the VAS score as the dependent variable.
Predictor variables were group, time of day (time) and the interaction between group
and time. If the interaction was not significant, it was removed from the model.
Marginally significant (p-value between 0.05 and 0.10) differences were also noted. All
analyses were conducted using SASv9.2 software.
As this was an exploratory study, basic content analysis was used to categorize
employees comments regarding dogs in the workplace as positive (improve mood,
relieve stress) or negative (disruptive, interfere). Employee responses were transcribed
verbatim and two reviewers independently coded each item. If a comment did not
conform to a predetermined category, it was coded as other/specify (Denzin and
Lincoln, 1994).
Seventy-six subjects completed the study, one of whom withdrew after the death of her
dog, thus analysis was completed on 18 DOG, 38 NODOG and 19 NOPET subjects
(total n=75). Approximately two-thirds (63%, n = 46) of subjects were female. Two
individuals did not report gender. Approximately 59% were high school educated or had
some college and the other 41% had at least a bachelor’s degree. Average length of
employment (tenure) at the company was approximately 10 years in each of the 3
groups. Participants job functions represented in the study were company president,
inventory, customer service, restoration/manufacturing, sales, human resources, clerk,
information systems, administration, legal, community relations, purchasing, and
development. There were no significant differences between the DOG, NODOG, and
NOPET groups in terms of age, education, or tenure.
Perceived Productivity. Table 1 shows the results of self-reported impact of dog
presence on productivity. For those bringing their dogs to work, about half reported the
dog important to their productivity with the remaining half reporting a neutral response.
The majority of dog owners not bringing their dogs to work and non-pet owners also
reported a neutral response. However, approximately the same number (20%) in both
groups reported the dog helpful or harmful to productivity.
Content Analysis. The content analysis revealed mostly positive comments such as
“pets in the workplace can be a great bonus for employee morale…” “having dogs here
are great stress relief.” “Dogs are positive; dogs increase coworker cooperation” and
“dogs relieve stress”. Negative comments included “Some dogs are disruptive”,
“Allergies problems for some”, “dogs should be well behaved and quiet”. Other
comments noted that sometimes it is inconvenient to bring dogs and if more than one
dog is in the home, owners feel guilty bringing only one.
Attitudes towards Pets. The PAS demonstrated high reliability in this sample
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.93). There was a significant difference between groups on the
PAS (p=0.0009). As might be expected, workers in the NOPET group had significantly
lower PAS scores than those in the DOG group (mean=92.7 vs 108.6, p=0.0141) or the
NODOG group (mean=92.7 vs 110.1, p=0.0008). There were no significant differences
in PAS between the DOG and NODOG groups.
Employee Organizational Perceptions. Each scale of the Employee Organizational
Perceptions Survey demonstrated moderate to high reliability (Chronbach’s alphas for
perceived organizational support = 0.82; affective commitment = 0.78; and job
satisfaction = 0.94). There were no significant differences between the DOG, NODOG,
and NOPET groups on any of these scales.
Reference norms for job satisfaction subscale scores (Spector, 1985) and perceived
organizational support (Eisenberger et al., 1986) are shown in Table 2. Significant
differences were found between the study participants and norm group with study
participants scoring higher overall for operating procedures, rewards, benefits, promotion,
pay, communication and overall job satisfaction. These trends are reinforced in the
NODOG and DOG groups, whereas the NOPET group only showed a significant increase
over reference norms in the job satisfaction subscale of pay. There were no significant
differences between the study sample and norm group in perceived organizational support
or the job satisfaction subscales of coworkers, supervision, or the work itself.
Self Reported Stress (VAS). Although all participants had been identified as “first shift”
employees, the individual times of arrival to and departure from work varied by as much
as 2 hours or more during the study. A total of 51 (7%) of the 717 completed VAS
ratings were omitted from analysis because they were completed outside of work hours.
Mean values for VAS between groups are presented in Figure 1 and Table 3. There
was a significant interaction between time and group (p=0.0112). In general, the DOG
group had the lowest VAS scores, the NOPET the next highest and the NODOG group
had the highest VAS scores. Whereas there were no significant differences in mean
VAS scores throughout the day for the DOG group or the NOPET group, there was a
significant increase in VAS over the course of the day for the NODOG group. For the
NODOG group, the increase in VAS from baseline to Time 2 was 9.4 (p=0.0234), to
Time 3 was 13.4 (p=0.0031) and to Time 4 was 19.6 (p=0.0002). There were no
significant differences between groups at baseline or at Time 2, although the NODOG
group had a marginally significantly higher VAS by about 12.9 points than the DOG
group (p=0.0772) at Time 2. At Time 3, the NODOG group had a significantly higher
VAS score by 19.8 points than the DOG group (p=0.0120) and by the end of the day
(Time 4), the NODOG group had a VAS score about 23.2 higher than the DOG group
(p=0.0052). Although the NOPET group had higher scores, there were no significant
differences between the NOPET group and DOG group at any time point. By the end of
the day (Time 4), there was a marginally significant difference between the NOPET
group and the NODOG group in which the NODOG group was about 13 points higher
than the NOPET group (p=0.0703).
Mean values for VAS within the DOG group are presented in Figure 2. Although VAS
scores were similar at baseline (Time 1), over the course of the day, VAS scores rose
throughout the days when the dog was not present as compared to days when the dog
was present. There was no significant interaction between time and days with versus
without the dog. However, there was a significant difference between days with and
without the dog present.. On days without the dog, the VAS score was about 6.8 points
higher than on days with the Dog (p=0.0209).
Early Morning Cortisol. Comparisons between groups (DOG, NODOG and NOPET) as
well as comparisons within DOG group (days with and without the dog) were made by
averaging the data for each group from both collection days (days 1 and 3 for DOG
Group with dogs at work, days 2 and 4 for the DOG group when they were without their
dogs, days 1 and 3 for the NODOG and NOPET groups). Mean values for salivary
cortisol for the DOG and NODOG groups were similar. The NOPET group had higher
cortisol levels (mean = 0.276, s.d. = 0.111, n = 19) than that for the DOG (mean =
0.243, s.d. = 0.110, n = 17) and NODOG (mean = 0.244, s.d. = 0.135, n = 38) groups,
but from one-way analysis of variance, there were no significant differences between
groups for these cortisol levels. Further, there was no significant difference in cortisol
expressions within the DOG group between their days with their Dog (mean = 0.243,
s.d. = 0.110) and without their Dogs at work (mean = 0.242, s.d. = 0.105).
Results show that most employees in this study perceive dog presence on productivity
neutrally. However a small group (approximately 20%) of those without pets in the
workplace perceives dog presence as hurting their personal productivity, a percentage
about equal to the number who perceives dog presence as beneficial. Although most of
the content analysis revealed positive comments regarding dogs in the workplace, some
insight into the negative perceptions of dog presence may be provided by the narrative
comments of some employees . For instance, animals in the workplace policies
regarding dog behavior, cleanliness, and noise are practical considerations
organizations could explore in minimizing any negative impact and maximizing positive
impact on productivity for those without dogs.
No significant differences were found between the groups on the Perceived
Organizational Support Scale. Scores did not differ from the reference norm group for
this scale. It appears that for these groups a perception of organizational support
exists. This potentially presents as noted in Muse et al (2008) a positive organizational
behavior setting and well-being can be enhanced. Perhaps members perceived they
were valued by the organization through the various programs and structures in place
and therefore no significant differences were found to other similar norm referenced
groups (Eisenberger et al 1986; Moorman et al, 1998; Wayne et al, 1997). It is not clear
from these results what effect the policy for allowing pets in the workplace has in this
area. In reviewing the narrative comments from employees in this study, many noted
the appreciation they had for allowing this policy to be in place. A practical application
for organizations to consider would therefore be determining if this added incentive
could be incorporated into their employee benefit packages.
The combined employee groups in this study scored significantly higher on multiple Job
Satisfaction subscales than the reference norm group (Spector, 1985, Spector, 1997).
This higher job satisfaction may relate to the length of time employees have remained
with the company, an average of 10 years for each of the groups. While no significant
between group differences were found, the non-pet owning group only differed from the
norm group on the subscale of pay, rating pay more favorably. The dog owning
employees appear to be the driving force behind the more favorable perceptions of job
satisfaction, scoring significantly higher on subscales of communication, benefits,
rewards, promotion, operating procedures, as well as pay. While having the option to
bring one’s dog to work may directly relate to rewards and benefits and perhaps
operating procedures, the relationship to communication, promotion, and pay appear
less clear. Unique dog-related communication in the workplace may contribute to higher
scores in this area. For example, employees without a dog had been observed
requesting to take a co-worker’s dog out on a break. These were brief, positive
exchanges as the dogs were taken and returned. Mail deliveries are sometimes made
by an employee with a dog in the mail cart, likely appealing to dog owners and creating
an opportunity for brief exchanges. Top management is also known to walk around
employee areas in the company of a dog, possibly creating a more relaxed climate for
interaction with dog owners (Barker, 2005).
The higher scores in communication are consistent with published studies in the
human-animal interaction literature documenting increased interaction associated with
dog presence (Barker, 2005, Hunt et al., 1992). Further investigation of dog presence
on communication in the workplace is needed to determine if the effect on quantity and
quality of communication enhances or detracts from work performance. The
relationship between dog owners and the higher scores on promotion are intriguing.
Perhaps the more positive perception of the organization permitting pets by dog owners
carries over to other areas, such as promotion and pay. However, pay was also
perceived by non-pet owners as more favorable than the reference norm group and
may not be related to dog ownership.
Both physiological and self-reported stress was assessed in this study. Salivary
cortisol, collected on awakening as an indicator of base (24-hour) stress levels,
revealed no significant differences between groups or within the dog group on days with
their dogs at work compared with days without the dog at work. There was wide
variation in the times that participants awoke each morning (with one reporting
awakening at 3:30 A.M) and collected their salivary cortisol, which could also have
influenced results. While some studies have reported lower baseline physiological
stress in dog owners compared with non-dog owners based on cardiovascular
measures (Allen et al., 2002), we found no supporting evidence in this small sample
based on salivary cortisol on awakening. Self-reported stress patterns throughout the
work day revealed generally lower stress levels for employees with their dogs present,
followed by non-pet owners. Stress patterns for dog owners who did not bring their dogs
to work appeared to consistently rise during the day and their stress ratings were
significantly higher than the dog present group by the afternoon (Time 3) and at the end
of the day (Time 4). Interestingly, self reported stress levels on the days the dog present
group left their dogs at home mirrored those of the group not bringing dogs to work and
these differences were significant. These results may reflect an increase in concern
about pets at home as the length of time away increases, missing pets more as the day
progresses, or lessening of a possible stress buffering effect of pets as the length of
time away from the pet increases. These results are consistent with published studies
supporting a stress buffering effect of pet presence (Allen et al., 2002, Barker et al.,
2010, Tudor et al, 2007) that may extend to the workplace.
The limitations of this study include the small convenience sample of volunteers who
participated and the inability to blind subjects to the study focus on dogs in the
workplace. It is also important to note that not all employees who bring their dogs to
work participated in this study, some for the expressed reason that they could not make
arrangements to leave their dogs at home. Therefore, there were some pets present in
the organization on study days that participants (DOG group) did not bring their dogs to
work, maintaining the normal pet present climate of the organization throughout the
study and maximizing our ability to assess the effects of the presence of one’s own dog
in the DOG group. Based on power analysis, we had hoped to complete 30 subjects
per group for a total of 90 subjects. However, 76 employees met all of the study
inclusion criteria and were enrolled, with one dropping out due to a dog’s death.
Further studies in large organizations are needed to replicate the findings of this study.
This is the first study to explore the effect of pet presence at work on pet-owning
employees’ stress and further research with larger sample sizes is needed to replicate
these findings and to investigate the impact on other outcomes, such as absenteeism,
tardiness, and productivity. Additional research could also investigate the impact of
different employee shift assignments on perceptions of support, commitment,
satisfaction and stress levels between dog owners and non-dog owners. An interesting
area of study would be to compare dog owning employees who telecommute or are
home-based with those in traditional workplace setting on such outcomes as stress and
organizational perceptions. There are no empirical studies investigating the benefits for
pet owners who work from home. While productivity is frequently the focus of
discussion regarding telecommuting, it would be interesting to determine if pets
influence such productivity. Systematic investigations would be difficult, however with
numerous potential covariates such as spouse and/or children in the home, privacy of
work space, and the nature of the work itself. It would also be important to investigate
the welfare of the dog in the work setting as well. Does the dog respond positively or
negatively to this setting and the myriad of environmental stimuli it is exposed to during
the work period? Future research combing more in-depth qualitative analysis with the
quantitative analysis could provide additional understanding of questions to be asked
and context of results.
Table 1. Perceived impression of dog presence on productivity for the three study
n %
No dog
n %
No pet
n %
n %
How important bringing a dog is to
personal productivity
Very important
Somewhat important
Neither important or unimportant
Somewhat unimportant
Very unimportant
How dogs in the workplace affect
personal productivity
Very productive
Somewhat productive
Neither help nor hurt my productivity
Somewhat hurt my productivity
Very much hurt my productivity
Table 2. Comparison of three study groups means and standard deviations (s.d.) with
reference norm values for Perceived Organizations Support (POS) total scores and
Job Satisfaction total scores and subscores.
No Dog
No Pet
Total Sample
Average POS
Work Itself
* p < .0001
** p < .0004
***p < .0009
Table 3. Stress Visual Analog Scale means and standard deviations (s.d.) for the three
study groups
No Dog
No Pet
Mean (Std)
Mean (Std)
Mean (Std)
24.82 (22.30)
26.66 (21.58)
28.67 (22.19)
22.61 (16.99)
36.21 (20.37)
32.13 (21.66)
19.69 (14.31)
39.53 (26.24)
30.83 (19.60)
22.10 (21.41)
45.70 (31.34)
32.71 (23.10)
Time 1 = 7:30 8:30 AM
Time 2 = 10:30 11:30 AM
Time 3 = 1:30 2:30 PM
Time 4 = 4:00 5:00 PM
Figure 1: Mean Stress Visual Analog Scale (VAS) Scores
during the workday
for the
three study groups Higher scores reflect higher stress levels.
1 2 3 4
no Dog
no Pet
VAS Scores combined for each group into an average for VAS from both collection
days (days 1 and 3 for DOG (days with dogs at work), NO DOG, and NO PET groups.
Time 1 = 7:30 8:30 AM; Time 2 = 10:30 11:30 AM; Time 3 = 1:30 2:30 PM; Time
4 = 4:00 5:00 PM
Figure 2: Mean Stress Visual Analog Scale (VAS) Scores
during the workday
for the
DOG Group on study days with their dog and days without their dogs
1 2
With Dog
Without Dog
VAS Scores combined on days with dogs at work (With DOG) and days dogs were not
present at work (Without Dogs)
Time 1 = 7:30 8:30 AM; Time 2 = 10:30 11:30 AM; Time 3 = 1:30 2:30 PM; Time
4 = 4:00 5:00 PM
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... Two studies have examined the effects of dogs in the workplace on stress and well-being. Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb, and Schubert (2012) studied the effects of dogs in the workplace on employees' self-reported stress. Employees who did and did not bring dogs to work completed a perceived stress survey several times throughout the work day (Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb, & Schubert, 2012). ...
... Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb, and Schubert (2012) studied the effects of dogs in the workplace on employees' self-reported stress. Employees who did and did not bring dogs to work completed a perceived stress survey several times throughout the work day (Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb, & Schubert, 2012). Employees who did not bring dogs to work had significantly higher perceived stress than employees who did. ...
... As a result, employee-owners have to interject, thereby neglecting their work duties. According to Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb, and Schubert (2012), 20% of employees without dogs perceived dogs as reducing their personal productivity (Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb, & Schubert, 2012). Moreover, employees must take the dog out for a walk, feed it and generally take care of it during their work time (Ayyar, 2014) (see Figure 1(b)). ...
... Zo lijken werknemers hun hond steeds vaker mee te nemen naar het werk. Onderzoek toont aan dat honden op kantoor werkbetrokkenheid kunnen verbeteren en stress kunnen verminderen (Barker et al., 2012;Hall et al., 2016). Wetende dat de helft van de werkende Belgen thuis een hond heeft (Mars, 2022), kan het meenemen van een hond naar kantoor een uitkomst bieden voor hond, eigenaar en organisatie. ...
... Tot nu toe onderzocht slechts één studie experimenteel de effecten van kantoorhonden op hun eigenaar én collega's (Barker et al., 2012). ...
... Deze studie onderzocht het effect van kantoorhonden op stress -gemeten via zelfrapportering en via cortisol in speeksel -gedurende de werkdag voor drie groepen werknemers: werknemers die hun hond meenemen naar het werk, werknemers die hun hond niet meenemen naar het werk en werknemers zonder hond. Resultaten toonden dalende stresspatronen aan bij de werknemers die zelf een hond meenamen op dagen dat er een hond aanwezig was (Barker et al., 2012). Mechanismen voor deze effecten werden niet onderzocht. ...
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Overgewaaid vanuit Amerika, is het binnenbrengen van honden in de werkomgeving sinds een tiental jaren ook in Europa in opmars. Hoewel een 'kantoorhond' in eerste instantie een vreemd idee kan lijken, is het geen verwonderlijke trend. Immers, bij een derde van de Europese huishoudens maakt een hond deel uit van het gezin. Wetende dat 50 tot 75 procent van de 20-tot 64-jarigen tewerkgesteld is, kan het meenemen van een hond naar het werk de werk-privébalans van hondeneigenaars verbeteren. De effecten van honden in de werkomgeving breiden zich echter ook uit naar betrokken collega's en organisaties. Immers, de aanwezigheid van een hond kan voordelige psychologische effecten teweegbrengen bij werknemers en kan organisaties helpen om zich te branden. Ook in het thuiskantoor kunnen honden bufferen voor gekende nadelen van thuiswerk. Er dient echter ook oog te zijn voor risico's. In dit artikel worden de voor-en nadelen van honden in de (thuis)werkomgeving, de achterliggende mechanismen en praktische implicaties geïdentificeerd. \ 122 De rol van huisdieren in het leven van werknemers en de potentiële voordelen voor organisaties wanneer zij de zorg voor huisdieren faciliteren is onderbelicht. Nochtans haalt de nieuwe arbeidsmarktgeneratie van millennials de babyboomers in als de grootste generatie huisdiereigenaars en zal zij tot 75% van het personeelsbestand uitmaken tegen 2025. Organisaties kunnen op twee manieren inspelen op deze realiteit. Ten eerste kunnen ze werknemers toelaten om van thuis uit te werken. Huisdieren kunnen bufferen voor gekende nadelen van thuiswerk, zoals verminderde sociale verbinding of een gebrek aan lichaamsbeweging. Ten tweede kunnen organisaties huisdieren toelaten op het werk. Steeds vaker worden huisdieren binnengebracht op de werkvloer. Voordelige effecten van dieren op mensen worden al decennia lang gedocumenteerd vanuit andere onderzoeks-gebieden. Zo ook kunnen 'kantoorhonden' werknemersstress verlagen en prestaties verhogen. Naast voordelige effecten zijn echter ook nadelige effecten te verwachten afhankelijk van kenmerken van de eigenaar, collega's, de organisatie en het dier. Voor onderzoekers en professionals is het daarom belangrijk om deze kenmerken in kaart te brengen en zowel de voordelen als de nadelen van dieren in de werkomgeving te begrijpen. Hiervoor is een transdisciplinaire aanpak met oog voor zowel mens als dier noodzakelijk, wil men werknemerswelzijn vergroten en risico's vermijden. Vanuit een 'one welfare' perspectief ('één-welzijnsprincipe') kan namelijk verwacht worden dat dierenwelzijn en werknemers welzijn met elkaar verbonden zijn en elkaar zowel positief als negatief kunnen beïnvloeden. Momenteel is er meer inzicht vanuit onderzoek nodig om richtlijnen te formuleren voor een effectieve implementatie van (thuis)kantoordierpraktijken.
... The presence of pets is well known to decrease stress in experimental studies using both stress biomarkers 19,48,[50][51][52] and subjective scales [53][54][55] . Most of these studies documented the positive influence of dogs, but do not include cats. ...
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Pet ownership has been associated with reduced deterioration in physical health as older adults age; little research focused on deterioration in cognitive function. We examine the relationship of pet, dog, cat ownership, and dog walking to changes in cognitive function among 637 generally healthy community-dwelling older adults (185 pet owners) aged 50–100 years (M = 68.3, SD = 9.6) within the BLSA. Cognitive assessments every 1–4 years over 1–13 years (M = 7.5, SD = 3.6) include the California Verbal Learning (Immediate, Short, Long Recall); Benton Visual Retention; Trail-Making (Trails A, B, B-A); Digit Span; Boston Naming (Naming); and Digit Symbol Substitution (Digit Symbol) Tests. In linear mixed models, deterioration in cognitive function with age was slower for pet owners than non-owners (Immediate, Short, Long Recall; Trails A,B,B-A; Naming; Digit Symbol); dog owners than non-owners (Immediate, Short Recall; Trails A,B; Naming; Digit Symbol); and cat owners than non-owners (Immediate, Short, Long Recall; Naming), controlling for age and comorbidities. Among dog owners (N = 73) walkers experienced slower deterioration than non-walkers (Trails B, B-A; Short Recall). All ps ≤ 0.05. We provide important longitudinal evidence that pet ownership and dog walking contribute to maintaining cognitive function with aging and the need to support pet ownership and dog walking in design of senior communities and services.
... Mediante esta sección resumo estudios de diversas autorías sobre los beneficios principales de una organización dog-friendly, mayormente dirigidos a las personas trabajadoras (Barker et al., 2012). Incluso hay información sobre los efectos en el bienestar de los empleados y empleadas en las organizaciones como los niveles de ansiedad (Agis, 2021). ...
Through this research of industrial-organizational psychology I studied the experiences of organizations in Puerto Rico that have implemented dog-friendly policies and its benefits. The methodology was qualitative, I used the semi-structured interview technique to collect information. The sample was composed of eight (8) participants, four (4) managers and four (4) persons employed by two (2) different organizations. Among the important findings, the experiences of organizations in Puerto Rico that have implemented dog-friendly policies, have been pleasant, enjoyable and positive for most people managers and employees interviewed. Benefits for organizations include harmony in the work environment and a useful recruitment strategy. There are also benefits for working people, including positive interpersonal relationships and emotional support and flexibility. In the conclusions I point out that the benefits for organizations and workers contribute to the balance of quality of working life, since that allows connecting personal aspects in the workplace. This work-life balance is consistent with the vision, values and mission of each organization. Keywords: Dog-friendly policy, Dog-friendly organizations, Quality of life labor, Industrial-organizational psychology, Dog-friendly benefits
... This is important because stress could have a negative impact on individuals with asthma. Those who owned a dog but did not bring it to work had the highest stress scores [27]. This suggests that reducing the hours where a dog is alone at home could be beneficial to owners. ...
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Since the beginning of domestication, the living conditions which are shared between humans and companion animals have changed dramatically. More time is spent together indoors, not only in urban places, but also in rural areas. Among the positive aspects is the asthma- and allergy-protective effect of living with pets during fetal development and infancy. In addition, there are benefits in terms of social interactions and mental health for humans and, as far as can be assessed, also for companion animals. Animals, especially dogs, are also brought more often to workplaces and schools. Thus, a number of the positive effects on social and health aspects are likely to come to these places of activity as well. Optimal preparation of the workplace for the animal by the owner, as well as instruction of employees and, additionally, training of the animal could help reduce potentially adverse effects. Such negative effects could include interference with work processes (phone calls, meetings, lectures, sales calls), and fear of bites or accident hazards by colleagues. In the sense of a One Health approach, this article focuses on the importance of animals (especially dogs) and humans sharing the home, but also the workplace. The effects on allergic/asthmatic diseases as well as on social and mental factors are particularly highlighted, as the latter may also contribute to these diseases. Only a few studies have examined the effects of contact between adult people, who are not pet owners themselves, with dogs in the work environment; so there is clearly a need for further research.
... Hence, allowing telework may minimize those concerns, and thus individuals can become more immersed and focused on their work tasks. The inclusion of pet-friendly policies is associated with positive and happy workplaces (Goffee and Jones, 2013;Pina-Cunha et al., 2019) and can lead to positive outcomes in the long run, such as talent attraction and retention (Wilkin et al., 2016), organizational productivity, competitive advantage and creativity (Barker et al., 2012;Graham et al., 2019). Moreover, pet-friendly policies must be gradually framed into the HRM as it may be a suitable PR strategy consistent with the AMO model (Appelbaum et al., 2000). ...
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Purpose Human–animal interactions (HAIs) have been found to have an extensive and significant influence on individuals' well-being and health-related outcomes. However, there are few studies that examine this influence on work-related contexts, such as teleworking. In this study, the author relied on the affective events theory to examine the effect of daily HAI on employees’ daily work engagement and the underlying mechanisms (daily affect ratio and state mindfulness), by resorting to a daily diary study. Design/methodology/approach To test the hypotheses, the author collected daily data during five consecutive working days with pet owners ( N = 400 × 5 = 2,000). Findings Multilevel results showed that interacting with pets during the working day was positively associated with daily work engagement, but this positive relationship was stronger for individuals with lower levels of mindfulness. Further analyses showed that the daily affect ratio mediated the moderating effect of mindfulness on the relationship between daily interactions with pets and daily work engagement. Practical implications These findings provide strong support for the proposed mediated moderation model; indeed, positive affect and mindfulness help to explain the positive effect of HAIs on work engagement. Hence, managers may consider the adoption of teleworking, even in a hybrid format for those workers who own pets, because interacting with pets may be a strategy to make them feel more positive and, in turn, more enthusiastic, dedicated and absorbed in their work. Originality/value This study is one of the first studies to demonstrate the importance of adopting pet-friendly practices, such as allowing pet owners to telework, as a way to promote daily work engagement.
This study intended to develop and validate the Telework Pet Scale (TPS). This measure aims to evaluate relevant aspects of the e-working experience related to the human-animal bond. We conducted four studies. First, we conducted a study to develop the scale, then we conducted another one to explore its factorial structure (N = 359). A third study served to analyze its internal validity and reliability (N = 290). A fourth study analyzed the criterion validity of the TPS, by exploring its correlations with measures of health, affect, satisfaction, and performance (N = 320 teleworkers). The findings revealed that the 8-item scale accounted for a unique factor and that it is a reliable measure. Moreover, the results also showed that the scale was significantly related to measures of health, affect, satisfaction, and performance. The cross-sectional nature of the four studies is a limitation. The TPS completes a gap in the research by providing a measure that may support organizations to evaluate and support teleworkers’ needs and their subsequent satisfaction while teleworking. This research gives a step forward in the knowledge about telework and pet owners perceived experience of it.
Die aktuellen Krisen – Arbeitskräfte-Mangel, Inflation, Pandemie, Klimawandel – stellen neue Herausforderungen an die Wirtschaftspsychologie. Die Beiträge der 26. GWPs-Fachtagung in Essen fokussieren die Entwicklungen in den Bereichen Personal, Arbeit und Organisation, Führung, Gesundheitsförderung, Konsum, Finanzpsychologie. Die Problemanalysen zeigen ebenso wie die Lösungsansätze eine kreative und methodisch reichhaltige Fachwelt. Download:
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Our purpose was to test an explanation of how procedural justice may influence organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). The model tested suggests that procedural justice affects OCB by influencing perceived organizational support, which in turn prompts employees to reciprocate with organizational citizenship behaviors. Results suggest that procedural justice is an antecedent to perceived organizational support, which in turn fully mediates its relationship to three of four OCB dimensions.
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Purpose ‐ This paper aims to investigate the role of work locus of control (WLOC) as a moderator of the relationship between employee wellbeing and organizational commitment. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper reports on a quantitative study of middle level executives from motor-cycle manufacturing organizations based in Northern India. The focus of the paper is to examine the predictive ability of wellbeing and the moderating effect of WLOC in predicting organizational commitment. Findings ‐ The results suggest that wellbeing is negatively related to conditional continuance commitment, whereby employees consider the advantages associated with continued participation and costs associated with leaving, and normative commitment, whereby employees feel they have moral obligations to remain with the organization. The presence of an external WLOC has a positive impact on the relationship. Wellbeing, as represented by a hassle-free existence, predicts positive affective commitment with a particular organization, and internal WLOC as represented by effort influences the relationship negatively. Research limitations/implications ‐ Although a cross-sectional study, its findings have implications for contemporary leadership and organizational psychology research and practice, particularly with regard to understanding of employee commitment in a progressively changing environment. Originality/value ‐ Studies examining the role of WLOC as a moderator of the relationship between wellbeing and organizational commitment are limited particularly in the context of post-liberalization, as is the case with the manufacturing industry in India.
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Evidence is presented that (a) employees in an organization form global beliefs concerning the extent to which the organization values their contributions and cares about their well-being, (b) such perceived organizational support reduces absenteeism, and (c) the relation between perceived organizational support and absenteeism is greater for employees with a strong exchange ideology than those with a weak exchange ideology. These findings support the social exchange view that employees’ commitment to the organization is strongly influenced by their perception of the organization’s commitment to them. Perceived organizational support is assumed to increase the employee’s affective attachment to the organization and his or her expectancy that greater effort toward meeting organizational goals will be rewarded. The extent to which these factors increase work effort would depend on the strength of the employee’s exchange ideology favoring the trade of work effort for material and symbolic benefits.
besteld dd.29 november 2000 tbv. Henk Elffers & Jan de Keijser