Donald Rubendall has just been hired as the Assistant Manager at Company XYZ. He worked for a traditional organization for 10 years as a Supervisor and was offered a position at Company XYZ (a new start-up company) that was seeking an Assistant Manager. The start-up company is far from being traditional and has a culture of flexibility and openness. As an example, there is no formal dress code at the start-up. After the first month on the job, he quickly learns that the start-up is making great progress and that additional employees will be hired. He is thrilled about the news. If anything, it means more job security for him. He has been tasked with hiring a Human Resource Generalist for his small department. He finds the perfect candidate—Ms. Gibson, but during the interview, he finds out that she has a small Chihuahua that she would like to bring to work each day. When questioned why during the interview, Ms. Gibson mentioned the following, “A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that stress declined over the course of a day in employees who brought their dog to work, while it rose for dog owners who left their pups at home and for non-dog owners.” Donald was still skeptical and wanted to do some more research on this challenging topic.
After doing some research, he realized that many large organizations such as Google and Amazon have had pet-friendly policies. Furthermore, he was able to find the following information online (Why You Should Bring Your Dog To Work retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dogs-to-work-stress_n_3475977 regarding the benefits of bringing pets to work:
- Reduces stress — In a self-reported survey of 31 companies, employees reported lower levels of stress with pets in the workplace. Cats slightly edged out dogs in the stress-relief department but both canine and feline contributed to a less stressful work environment. Of course, this corroborates existing research that has shown the positive effect that pets can have on cardiovascular health, autonomic stress responses, and blood pressure.
- Forces breaks — Studies have demonstrated the value of taking frequent, short breaks as a way of increasing productivity, and pets make us do just that.
- Makes the environment friendlier — The same instinct that leads you to spontaneously break out into puppy-talk around your pooch may lead you to be more amicable to your colleagues and your customers. In pet-friendly workplaces, employees reported feeling friendlier to one another and finding that customers had a more positive impression of the company.
After reading the research, Donald is both surprised and convinced that Ms. Gibson would be a great hire and would like to hire her even if she has to bring her Chihuahua to work each day. The only problem is that he needs to discuss the situation with the CEO before he can officially hire her.
Some specific articles on this topic to get you started:
Truett, R. (2013). Some stores see being pet-friendly as a plus. Automotive News, 88(6591). Available in the Trident Online Library.
Linacre, S. (2016). Pets in the workplace. Human Resource Management International Digest, 24(4), 17-19. Available in the Trident Online Library.
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), 15-30. Available in the Trident Online Library.
Once you have finished reading about this topic and reviewing the background materials, please write a 2- to 3-page paper (either in essay format or Q & A format) addressing the following questions:
- How should Donald Rubendall approach the situation? Is it worth hiring Ms. Gibson and implementing a new “controversial” policy at the company? Justify your response.
- What if 10% of the employees do not support a pet-friendly workplace? Would you still consider the policy? Justify why.
- What should the policy be for a pet-friendly workplace? Where should the administration draw the line (e.g., should snakes be allowed)? Create a memo outlining the policy in detail so there is no confusion.
- As a future Manager, what is the best way to gauge how your employees feel about a pet-friendly policy (e.g., large meeting, anonymous survey, or one-on-one meetings)? Justify your response.
- If the CEO opposes the new policy but is willing to hear some “options”, what would be some plausible compromises?
Be sure to support your arguments with references to the background readings and your research.