When I’m looking for new staff members to join the Region Media team, it’s fair to say that the ability to come when whistled and to sit on command are not necessarily top of the list (although we might need to re-think that for some of our journalists).
But it’s certainly endeared our latest recruit to the team.
Mr Smiggle came to Region Media from the RSPCA ACT. He’d been regretfully surrendered by his previous owner, who had also initially adopted him from a shelter.
We have not the slightest idea what his breeding is, but his manners are impeccable. He is friendly, inquisitive, adaptable and happy to find a sunny spot on the meeting room floor. The Region Media office is populated with dog lovers, so we keep a leash (and the mandatory poo bags) by the door and Mr Smiggle enjoys regular strolls with his friends on staff.
He’s available for hugs, for soothing frayed nerves and for entertaining the crew. On Fridays when we have office lunch, Mr Smiggle plays the time-honoured role of four-legged vacuum cleaner.
This week's news update stars the latest Region Media staff recruit, Mr Smiggle, recently arrived from the RSPCA ACT. We're talking about taking your pets to work, and also the Mitchell tram stop, a contentious Campbell development, flying to the sun and renaming the Ben Boyd National Park.
Posted by The RiotACT on Thursday, 25 June 2020
And, says RSPCA CEO Michelle Robertson, these are all excellent reasons for bringing pets to work if you can. It won’t work for all offices, it’s important that everyone agrees about bringing in a pet, and that you check for allergies among colleagues (and dislike of animals).
But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that both pets and people are happier working together. Pets can help reduce stress and build a sense of community in a team.
Michelle believes that as many commonly held beliefs about workplace expectations change, particularly with the ongoing impact of COVID-19, there will be more room to relax about the presence of animals.
“There are so many really good reasons to have pets at work. Workplaces can be very stressful so just taking a minute to stroke your dog will make you feel calm and get those creative juices flowing,” she says.
“They are good for health, wellbeing and productivity and good for animal welfare outcomes.”
RSPCA animals all have their own stories and Michelle says that the maxim of “adopt don’t shop” also means opening your heart to an animals’ need rather than shopping for the picture-perfect pet.
“Some of them don’t have the best start in life but they are good animals who make good pets”.
Dr John Molineux, who is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Deakin University, says that the importance and value of workplace wellbeing is increasingly relevant for organisations of all sizes.
“You don’t stop being yourself at work. You have many non-work aspects to your life”, he says. “Owning a pet is one of those, and pet ownership has a strong social networking aspect and a sense of community.”
“So many studies show the benefits of owning a pet – it’s a mutual benefit”, Michelle Robertson says.
“Animals make us better. We are really good for each other”.