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Boosting workplace wellness with Pets at Work

27 August 2018

Pet-friendly workplaces makes for happier people

Organisations looking to reap the benefits of a higher performing and more motivated workforce are being encouraged to take the pledge to bring their pets to work on ‘Pets at Work Day’, Friday 7 September.

‘Pets at Work’ is a global movement led by Purina, that encourages and supports organisations to make their workplace pet-friendly. Some may be surprised by the unexpected benefits to employees that come from the simple act of bringing pets to work, including less stress, enhancing collaboration[1] and boosting happiness[2].

Leading HR Consultant, Grant Amos of Amos & Associates, believes having pets in the workplace can be immensely beneficial for an organisation and its people.

“Stress levels across New Zealand businesses have risen by 22.9% since 2016[3], which can have a huge impact on staff wellbeing, affecting their overall performance. So, safeguarding staff health particularly around stress, fatigue and anxiety should be a priority,” said Amos.

“The presence of pets at work can serve as a low-cost wellness intervention opportunity that shows the organisation cares about its people. It fosters a culture where people are seen as real people and that their lives outside of work matter. This in turn, makes for a happier workplace where people are more comfortable in expressing their ideas and creativity.”

“It also forms a great talent acquisition and retention strategy as many workers consider having pets at work a perk of the job.”

Research found that 63% of employees tended to like their employer more for offering them the benefit of having pets at work1.

Shaun Robinson, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation, agrees that pets can have a considerably positive effect on a person’s sense of well-being.

“The special interactions humans have with their pets has long been recognised as being beneficial for people’s mental health. It brings people together, alleviates feelings of loneliness and social isolation, and can reduce feeling of stress and anxiety.” said Robinson.

The team at Purina New Zealand’s head office have enjoyed bringing their pets to work since 2001 because they genuinely believe that people and pets are better together. Purina Business Executive Officer, Jennifer Chappell, said she has seen first-hand the benefits of having cats and dogs in the workplace.

“It’s made for a more cohesive team with pets a part of it. Our employees are happier and healthier, they smile and laugh more and feel aligned with the vision of the organisation,” said Chappell.

“The overall atmosphere in the office is warmer, friendlier and more relaxed. The pets love it too as they curl up happily in their beds or wander up to someone for a pat or nuzzle.”

Andrea Midgen, CEO, SPCA said few dog owners enjoy leaving their beloved pets at home while they head off to work, and having a pet-friendly workplace can benefit both the people and animals.

“Recently I adopted border collie Jack, who was rescued from a property where he spent most of the day chained up. Being able to bring him into the office every day helped him settle into our family so quickly. The office has introduced Jack to new people, dogs and environments, and taking him for lunchtime walks is good for me too!” said Midgen.

Organisations can join the Pets at Work movement by bringing pets to work on Friday 7 September and registering their participation here. A toolkit with information for employers and employees on how to get started is available here.

[1] APD Global Research. (2016). How to win friends and influence people with pet friendly workplaces. New Zealand.

2 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 organisational perceptions. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 5(1), 15-30.

3 BusinessNZ (2017). Wellness in the workplace 2017: Survey report. Wellington. Retrieved from


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