The human-dog relationship is said to have lasted 30,000 years, possibly even over 100,000 years. In animal-human interaction the healing power that employees appreciate during all their busy working lives is a mystery that ancient Hippocrates realized.
In Finland, dogs are already used to some extent in institutions. There is a visiting dog in elderly care, a reading dog in libraries. Animal assisted welfare and rehabilitation methods has been seen as a solution to various welfare challenges (Lipponen & Vehmasto, 2019). Recent studies and experiments on the positive impact of dogs in working life have been conducted in the field of leadership studies (Mäkelä, 2019), highlighting the benefits of coaching leadership to organizational success.
Our work at Greenstep follows the cycles of the fiscal year in Finland. The beginning of the year is a busy time. Then the financial statements are piled up and refined at an accelerating rate. Each member of staff identifies a time when each person needs special peace of mind, cheer and encouragement. A more responsive working life will also increase busy periods for other times of the year. We always want to serve our customers as well as possible and give our best when communicating with the customer. To do that, we need well-being staff.
Over the years, we have developed various elements to help maintain and increase the well-being of our staff. During the financial year, we give peace of mind and arrange happy surprises for them. With a little consideration for each other, we create a sense that everyone is important, and give a message that we want to take good care of our staff. When the worst of the rush eases, we offer more opportunities for professional development and for maintaining and developing the physical and mental capacity to work.
One of the strengths that maintains well-being at Greenstep is Rollo, who regularly works at the Espoo office. Rollo is year old Labradoodle dog, whose presence we enjoy at the Espoo office every week. The arrival of an office dog as part of Greenstep's workplace well-being development is, as is often the case with the best inventions, a change. Rollo's owner, Fredrik, had been pondering the best place for his vivid puppy to stay away from home for long days alone, and with the permission of his employer, decided to try how Rollo would fit in with Greenstep's office work.
Rollo had a limited working area so staff could choose whether or not to interact with the dog. Rollo's weekly working hours do not quite exceed his master's working hours, and he has no pre-defined obligations to attend all office duties. For Rollo, the freedom to choose and build his own working day seems to be a perfect fit. During the day, Rollo inspects the daytime mood of non-point workers by circling the office calmly and sitting down for a moment if the person shows a willingness to socialize with the dog. In tight working periods, the calm presence of the dog next to him will reassure the employee, and Rollo's friendly attitude will delight anyone who comes along.
Studies (see, for example, Foreman, Glenn, Meade, and Wirth, 2017) indicate that dog-human interaction provides social support to humans. Social support reduces stress and depression and has a performance enhancing effect. At Greenstep, we haven't scientifically investigated the impact of Rollo's presence, but it is certain that Rollo's office hours will be slightly happier and more good-humored than normal.
Foreman, A.M., Glenn, M.K., Meade, B.J. & Wirth, O. 2017. Dogs in the workplace: A review of the benefits and potential challenges. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 14(5): 498.
Lipponen, M. & Vehmasto, E. 2019. Sosiaalipedagoginen hevostoiminta. Luonnonvara- ja biotalouden tutkimus nr:o 78/2019. Luonnonvarakeskus.
Mäkelä, L. 2019. Vahvuuksia tukeva valmentava johtajuus antaa tilaa uusille ideoille. Valmentavat rehtorit koira-avusteisen pedagogiikan hyödyntämisen mahdollistajina. Teoksessa Koivunen, N. & Kultalahti, S. (ed.) 2019. Meidän Riitta – tutkija, opettaja, yhteiskunnallinen vaikuttaja. Acta Vasaensia 419. Vaasan yliopisto.