To the delight of animal lovers everywhere, awareness of the physical, mental and emotional toll taken by stress is leading progressive employers to create take-your-pet-to-work programs.
(BPT) - If you’ve ever felt tense, anxious or simply unable to relax while performing your job, you’re far from alone.
A recent survey by the American Institute of Stress found 80 percent of U.S. workers across industries have felt stress in the workplace; nearly half say they could use help dealing with it and 42 percent said their co-workers could use some relief.
To the delight of animal lovers everywhere, awareness of the physical, mental and emotional toll taken by stress is leading progressive employers to create take-your-pet-to-work programs. For example, for the past 20 years Purina has encouraged its associates to bring their pets to work, and in a typical week hundreds of dogs and cats enjoy spending time with their owners at the pet food maker’s St. Louis campus.
"Pets bring a wealth of benefits — both physical and emotional — to pet owners and their families, so it's no surprise those same benefits also apply to the workplace and employees," notes Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina's chief veterinary officer. "Whether a pet helps provide a calming sense during a challenging situation or encourages employees to take a walk during their lunch break, here at Purina we experience the benefits of pets at work every day, and want others to as well."
As more and more companies adopt a pets-at-work policy, consider these facts based on a recent Purina report about the many advantages of such programs:
* They can benefit health: Pet-employee interaction has been shown to reduce the employees' blood pressure and cholesterol levels in addition to alleviating anxiety.
* They can improve employee retention: Sixty-three percent of employees in pet-friendly workplaces say they’re very satisfied with their work environments — nearly twice as many as those in other workplaces. In fact, respondents rank the option of bringing pets at work as the second most-valuable employee perk — more valuable than free coffee and parking. Overall, three in five survey participants wish their workplace would institute a pet-friendly policy.
* They can alleviate loneliness: Eight in 10 employees who can bring pets to work say that activity makes them feel more happy, relaxed and sociable. That's partly because talking about pets can be an ice breaker, making it easier for people to approach co-workers and get to know them better.
* They can promote physical activity: Many employees spend breaks and lunchtime playing with their pets or taking them for walks, boosting their own aerobic activity at the same time.
* They can increase pets’ happiness: Rather than staying home waiting for their owners to arrive, pets get to socialize with new people, play with other pets and enjoy more activity. Nearly nine of 10 people in the survey agree that bringing their pets to work strengthens owner-pet bonding.
In light of the proven benefits, Purina encourages other employers to consider allowing pets in the workplace. A toolkit with tips and information is provided at Purina.com.
“Our goal with our report is to continue to raise awareness of the benefits of taking pets to work and to arm employees and employers with insights that can help facilitate pet-friendly environments within their companies,” notes Dr. Venator.
It’s time for America’s workforce to wake up. If you are one of the tens of millions of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours each night — the amount recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — you are likely jeopardizing performance, increasing accident risks and putting everyone in danger during commutes. Getting enough sleep every night is key to improving productivity, safety and quality of life. Here are some tips to make sleep work for you.
(BPT) - It’s time for America’s workforce to wake up. If you are one of the tens of millions of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours each night — the amount recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — you are likely jeopardizing performance, increasing accident risks and putting everyone in danger during commutes. Getting enough sleep every night is key to improving productivity, safety and quality of life.
Here are some tips to make sleep work for you.
Don’t burn the midnight oil
Working late nights might impress your boss, but restricting your sleep can lead to trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and more, severely affecting your productivity at work. The National Safety Council reports that workers who sleep fewer than six hours per night cost employers six days a year in productivity.
Sleep for safety
Workers who sleep less than six hours per night are also at higher risk for injury, according to the Sleep Research Society. Cognitive and motor performance impairments caused by sleep deprivation can be comparable to drinking alcohol. If you make it a daily priority to recognize the signs of fatigue before, during and after work, and refuse to drive drowsy, you can reduce the risk of serious injury for yourself and others. This may be especially true if you work a job that involves manual labor or heavy machinery.
Strategies for non-traditional work hours
Some of the more high-risk professions involve working irregular hours. Shift workers — who can be nurses, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, transportation operators and more — work overnight or early morning hours with irregular or rotating shifts, causing upheaval in the body’s circadian rhythm and natural sleep/wake cycle. According to the AASM, shift workers may sleep up to four fewer hours per night than those working traditional hours, increasing the risk for injuries, accidents and drowsy driving. The CDC reports that serious long-term health problems are a concern, too.
However, there are ways for shift workers to combat this problematic sleep schedule.
Tips for 'wake time'
* Avoid exposure to sunlight if you need to sleep during the day, and wear sunglasses if you must go outside.
* Use moderate amounts of caffeine in the early part of your shift.
* Use public transportation, rideshare or take a cab, or arrange rides from friends or family after a work shift.
* Take a 20- to 30-minute nap during a work break or before a night shift.
* Get help from a sleep specialist to reinforce your body clock with strategically timed bright light therapy.
Tips for 'sleep time'
* Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before you go to bed.
* Plan for any major changes in your shift schedule by altering your sleep time a few days in advance.
* Try to keep the same schedule on workdays and days off and create an effective “wind down” routine before going to bed.
* Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, turn off all electronics and only do relaxing activities like reading or journaling.
Use the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project’s bedtime calculator, which helps you find your ideal bedtime based on when you need to wake up for work — even if that’s in the middle of the night.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep isn’t just a matter of feeling alert for productivity and safety on the job; it’s a necessary component of good health and well-being. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a board-certified sleep medicine physician at an accredited sleep center for help. For more information go to www.sleepeducation.org.
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