Paw-sitive culture a critical step in workplace wellbeing
Exactly 112 furry legs on 28 cheerful dogs have wandered the halls of Melbourne Water’s Docklands office as part of a program aimed at improving health and wellbeing.
The ‘Bring Your Dog to Work’ initiative that began in November 2015 to improve staff engagement and wellbeing has become a permanent fixture and a top ranking reason to work at the water business according to staff.
The 2017/18 financial year saw the supportive pooches make 76 visits to the office. It’s one of a number of initiatives to promote wellbeing alongside its focus on mental health for RUOK Day Thursday 13 September.
“Workplace health and safety is about more than just ensuring the physical safety of our people, it’s just as much about promoting mental health and wellbeing as well,” said Linda Heron General Manager, People and Capability.
“We know that providing an engaging and supportive environment is important for our staff and we enjoy having our furry four legged friends at work to foster a sense of community and of course have a quick pat or cuddle where we can.”
Seven year old Brittany Spaniel, Buddy, fast became a staff favourite at the office.
While recent studies have promoted dogs at work having positive impacts on physical health, Senior Hydraulic Planner Nigel Pugh said the change to a work environment could be seen instantly.
"It’s amazing to see people’s reactions when they notice a dog strolling through their work area,” he said.
“You can tell if someone has had a stressful day, but as soon as they see a dog and its tail wagging walking up to greet them, their demeanour completely changes. Having dogs at the office lifts the mood, kicks off conversations and put things in perspective on a difficult day.”
Wellbeing is a core focus for the water business which currently employs 1135 staff, more than 100 of which have been in the ranks for over 20 years. Ms Heron said it was important to have conversations about wellbeing all-year-round.
“We spend so much of our life at work, it’s vital that people feel empowered and supported to have those conversations,” she said.
The business also provides a Give back Get back volunteering initiative for staff to take two days paid volunteer leave each year in addition to a wellbeing allowance.
“Volunteering is a wonderful way of supporting our community and its good for staff to find meaning outside their standard work and family life, and good for our business as it connects our people with the diverse community we serve” Ms Heron said.
For information on Melbourne Water and its career opportunities visit www.melbournewater.com.au.
To see photos and stories of our beloved furry friends follow Melbourne Water on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.