10 Reasons to Work Like a Dog

Learn from our canine friends how you can be the best colleague or leader.

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PHOTO: LUFIMORGAN
PHOTO: LUFIMORGAN

August 5th is Work Like A Dog Day. While I don’t know anyone who observes rituals for this day of unknown origin, the thought of it has perplexed me for years. I’ve struggled to ignore its absurdity, as well as the saying itself in relation to modern-day house dogs.

But, I’m offering a new take on this day and encouraging all of us to work like a dog, especially as many people are heading back to their offices. It’s time to learn from our canine friends how to become the colleagues everyone wants to be around or leaders everyone needs.

10 Reasons To Work Like A Dog

Dogs are good listeners. Numerous studies, including one by author John Izzo, show that employees are less productive and don’t take initiative, because management doesn’t listen or get input before making decisions. Being a good listener is key to an individual’s success. Having a team of good listeners can dramatically help an organization improve its results.

Dogs don’t talk behind people’s backs. While getting the 4-1-1 on new initiatives near the water cooler can be helpful, the amount of gossip floating around a typical office can hurt individuals and put a damper on employee morale.

Dogs are willing to try new things. According to Alex Lickerman, M.D., trying something new keeps you from becoming bored, opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new, and forces you to grow. Any of these reasons would have positive results for you and your work, and the combination of the three is a home run.

Dogs make people feel safe. According to a research report by the Society of Human Resource Management, about one-half of employees, and nearly 60% of female employees, indicated that feeling safe in at work was very important to their job satisfaction.

Dogs don’t hold a grudge. Cutting colleagues slack can be one of the greatest gifts but, all too often, people let their inability to let go get in the way of positive work relationships. Giving others the permission to be human and make mistakes from time to time can be liberating and even reduce stress levels.

Dogs show appreciation. “There may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter — that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we’re recognized for it,” said Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, in the HBR Blog Network post “Why Appreciation Matters So Much.” Appreciation plays an important role in how we feel and perform. Genuine appreciation lifts people up and helps them do their best.

Dogs won’t leave you in times of trouble. While many colleagues are more than willing to ride each other’s coattails on the way up, some are quick to abandon their coworkers when they sense unfavorable results or potential controversy. Sticking by teammates during rocky times builds relationships, trust, loyalty, confidence, and morale.

Dogs are fun to be around. Making work fun helps us manage stress, increase creativity, and produce greater problem solving, suggests Ron Culberson, author of Do it well. Make it Fun. The Key to Success in Life, Death, and Almost Everything in Between. It also can create a new perspective and engages people. Being around more people who make work fun can energize a staff to achieve great results.

Dogs are always happy to see you. Every time coworkers encounter one another, they have the opportunity to positively impact each other and the overall workplace atmosphere, but instead of greeting each other with smiles and well wishes, they often appear harried, stressed, and self-absorbed. Fostering a culture that encourages warmly acknowledging colleagues can increase employee morale and productivity.

Dogs make people smile. Smiling has more benefits than showing off expensive dental work. The Wall Street Journal reported, in “Stress-Busting Smiles,” that smiling generates a physiological response and changes in the brain. It can reduce one’s heart rate and lower stress levels. Smiling isn’t only good for the person wearing it, but experts hold that it also has a positive impact on those who observe it. Working with people who genuinely smile puts those around them at ease and creates a more productive atmosphere.

Working like a dog can be good for you, your team, your organization, and the bottom line. Dogs have qualities humans should strive to adopt. It’s time to embrace a new take on this day and appreciate all the great reasons to work like a dog.

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