The pet retail giant Fressnapf, on the face of it the German answer to Pets at Home, with more than 1,400 stores in twelve European countries, has a novel approach to the dilemma faced by all working dog owners about leaving their four-legged friends at home. Dog owners are allowed to bring their pets to the company’s Head Office, where approximately 1,000 people are employed, in Krefeld and have them in their office, providing that their colleagues agree. A field on the Head Office’s site allows pet owners and their furry friends to stretch their legs and the latter to ‘do’ their business.
During my year as an English Trainer in Germany, I would visit Fressnapf’s Head Office in Krefeld on average once a week and deliver bespoke language training to groups of up to ten students from across the business. My students, when asked about the company’s core values or mission, would often say: ‘Happier pets, happier people’. That concept is incorporated in the company’s mission statement on the English-speaking version of the Fressnapf website:
“If we do everything we can to make the relationship between pets and people simpler, better and happier, we will be the hub of the world for all animal lovers and pets. That means ‘Happier pets, happier people’!”
Happier pets, happier (and more productive) employees? Is it feasible, or desirable, for canine lovers to bring their pet(s) into your place of work or is it a simply barking idea? [No more dog related puns, I promise].
Dogs were not allowed in meeting rooms, where my colleagues and I used to teach and coach, or in the cafeteria/restaurant. Similarly, if someone did not like dogs, there were some employees whom I encountered in my time there who did not, then dogs were barred from that office. Dog had to be kept on leads when being walked through the buildings and staff car park. The warehousing operation was ‘off limits’ for canines, too.
Do/did non dog-owning staff regard their colleagues who take their animal out when they are at work in the same way as a non smoker might view a colleague who keeps ‘nipping out for a fag?’ It was a question I never thought to ask.
On the flip side, allowing a dog owner to have their pet at work seemed, anecdotally at least, to improve that employee’s morale. However, the policy might also persuade an employee with their pooch by their side to stay longer at work than would be good for man or beast.
Moreover, does the productivity of dog owners who bring their dogs to work increase? Quite possibly, on a subjective basis, yes; but I am unaware of any research in large organizations into the link between having a hound at work and increased employee productivity.
A dog owner would be well placed to empathise with Fressnapf’s dog loving customers and have an insight into the pooch friendly products they sell. A sensible policy to allow dog lovers to bring their four-legged companion(s) to work or just a silly gimmick; what do you think?