Employees and organisations of the modern workplace exist in an extremely stressful, demanding, and competitive environment, which adversely affects the health and well-being of the individual employee and the organisation. Employees are recognised as the most important asset of any organisation, and their health and well-being play a critical role in the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of the organisation. Employers can improve employee performance and consequently organisational productivity by promoting both healthier individuals and healthier work environments. The extent to which employers are able to maintain optimal performance, together with commitment, high morale, and well-being of their employees, will ultimately determine their level of success. Employers are, therefore, constantly searching for means that would promote employee health and well-being, and as a result also enhance organisational issues, such as productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness. The implementation of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a conventional and trusted programme that produces such outcomes. The presence of pets in the workplace could possibly contribute to the field of employee assistance. According to research, the human-animal bond, and the positive interaction between humans and animals have a beneficial impact on the well-being, and quality of life of people from all age, and target groups. If these general health-enhancing benefits of pets on their human companions are experienced in the workplace, it may benefit the economically active adult population, as well as the organisation. Consequently, the implementation of a pet-friendly workplace policy may be an innovative means to enhance the outcomes of an EAP. The goal of this study is to explore the potential for implementing a pet-friendly workplace policy in a South African work environment as a means to enhance the outcomes of an EAP. The study was conducted in conjunction with employees from Lowe Bull Calvert Pace (LBCP), a leading advertising company in South Africa. Twenty-eight employees participated in the study. The study complies with a quantitative approach, as an electronic semi-structured self-completion questionnaire was developed and utilised to explore perceptions and opinions about the presence of pets in the workplace. Several interesting findings were made about the perceived functions, benefits, and drawbacks of pets in the workplace, as well as the overall opinion to the idea of pets in the workplace. The study also identified issues that need to be considered during the actual formulation of a pet-friendly workplace policy. Generally, research describes the benefits of pets for the more vulnerable people in society - those who are often not part of the economically active adult population. However, a pet-friendly workplace policy could benefit the economically active adult population and the organisation. This exploratory study reveals that a great deal still needs to be done before pets can be introduced into the South African work environment. It may however, in the near future, be possible to integrate a pet-friendly workplace policy as a logical, but limited, component of a comprehensive EAP as a means to enhance the outcomes of the programme.
Dissertation (MSoc.Sc (Employee Assistance Programme))--University of Pretoria, 2006.