By our very nature, we are social beings. Of course there’s different levels to our inherent need to interact with others, and sometimes (or even often), all we want is to be in our own space. But as a society, it’s safe to say that we tend to flourish when we’re in the company of others.
For this reason, fostering a culture within the workplace where people can readily form strong connections with their fellow colleagues is essential for organisational performance and growth. Connection is key in the development of positive organisations; it creates a sense of belonging, empowerment and commitment. It creates sparks of energy, enthusiasm and increases our motivation. And it creates feelings of self worth and competence. Show me a business leader who wouldn’t want to see these characteristics in their employees…
That said, how many businesses have you worked in where everyone, regardless of role, regularly connects with people from different departments or disciplines in a meaningful way?
So often, we get into the habit of spending our days chained to our desks, only lifting our heads to accept the offer of a brew (and praying it’s not our round next…). What doors might open, ideas surface or innovations come to light by talking to people with completely different backgrounds, perspectives and ideologies?
According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity, companies with collaborative workplace cultures are five times as likely to be high-performing than those who don’t focus on collaboration.
But how do you encourage people to get past the awkwardness and start to make unlikely connections outside of their comfort zone? The answer is quite simple…dogs!
Yes you read that right. Anyone who owns, or has ever owned a dog will already understand the catalytic properties of dogs when it comes to social interactions. All of a sudden, you’re making eye contact with people who historically would have gone out of their way to avoid you. Dogs have an innate ability at helping people to connect with each other. They can break down invisible social barriers and create a sense of camaraderie and familiarity between us.
Researchers at Central Michigan University wanted to know if dogs could bring these benefits to the workplace. They gathered groups of four people and gave them a task to complete, the only difference being that some groups worked on the project while a dog wandered around. Afterwards, each group member was asked to rate their colleagues on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy. In all cases, the groups who had a dog present ranked their teammates significantly higher than those who had not.
This study does not standalone. Researchers have also shown how the presence of a dog can make people more receptive to others, encourage a higher frequency of social interactions and improve people’s perceptions of friendliness.
At Moment to Paws, we have designed our wellbeing events not only to provide the proven health benefits dogs bring to people, but also to help organisations encourage interaction and connection among members of staff. We create a space which invites collaboration and where people feel comfortable initiating conversations with those who they haven’t necessarily connected with before. Imagine the possibilities that might come out of a spontaneous interaction between two people from different backgrounds. Innovative ideas, different perspectives and a whole new level of creativity.
This is the kind of collaboration that creates excellence within an organisation. And this is the kind of collaboration that we are so excited to help you foster. Get in touch today!