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National Bring Your Dog to Work Day gives HR paws for thought

24 Jun 2017 By Emily Burt

Almost two-thirds of People Management readers support bringing dogs to work

Dogs have a longstanding reputation as man’s best friend – and, on national Bring Your Dog to Work Day, almost two-thirds of People Management readers think they can also make excellent colleagues.

An annual event celebrating its fourth year, Bring Your Dog to Work Day encourages people across the UK to raise money for canine charities by bringing their four-legged friends into the workplace.

Happy #BringYourDogToWorkDay! Here's some of the FC dogs hard at work helping out in the forest pic.twitter.com/FsFvHXg1lG

Ethical dog-grooming manufacturer HOWND, which founded the event, believes the presence of dogs in the office can have positive benefits for employee productivity and wellbeing. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management also discovered that pets in the workplace can reduce stress and improve job satisfaction – even among employees who are not dog owners themselves.

“It’s lovely to see how, from a small idea, this has really captured the nation,” co-founder of HOWND, Jo Amit, told People Management. “People in Britain love their dogs, and employers are starting to realise that, while you can’t necessarily have dogs in the office every day, Bring Your Dog to Work Day gives organisations a year to prepare for it.

“We have published HR guidelines around the event, but it’s really about common sense: bringing in dogs that are calm and well behaved, and get on with other dogs. Most dog owners know whether or not their dog can go into an office environment.”

A Twitter poll found nearly two out of three (61 per cent) People Management readers are in favour of Bring Your Dog to Work Day, although some raised issues around accommodating colleagues with allergies or who feel uncomfortable around furry friends.

In a separate poll by the CIPD, almost half (42 per cent) of HR professionals said they would consider a more permanent policy allowing dogs in their workplace. But Rachel Suff, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said employers should consider all the implications of bringing dogs to work. “All employees need to be on board with having dogs in the office,” she said. “If some employees are afraid of dogs or are allergic to them, you need to take this into account, as their wellbeing is most important, and the reason behind this initiative in the first place.”

Suff suggested that HR gauge the mood around dogs in the office via an intranet poll or staff email before introducing dogs to the workplace, to help employers understand if the initiative would work in principle. “Staff will also feel reassured that you’re taking their views and wellbeing into account,” she said.

Amit said the ultimate decision to allow dogs in the office rests with each organisation’s HR department. “There are lots of ways to get involved in supporting the event without having to bring a dog into the office,” she pointed out. “They can upload a ‘pooch selfie’ to the website or become a business sponsor – it’s a great event to take part in and raise money for good causes.”

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