Dogs in the Workplace – More Than Just a Furry Friend
Dogs are frequently called “man’s best friend”, but did you know they are also a collection agency’s best friend? This is what two GLCCA member agencies are finding as they employ a “therapy dog” as part of their regular full-time staff. Jeff Gronholz, President of Professional Credit Analysts of MN and Jeff Shavlik, Vice President of Finance System of Green Bay, Inc., have both discovered that making “bring your dog to work day” part of their everyday routine has reaped more benefits than either could have imagined.
Gronholz’s Cavapoo, Woody, has been a regular fixture in the agency since he was a puppy. Now 1-1/2 years, the team at PCA has adopted him as their own. “When I’m traveling and not in the office, someone will come to my house and pick Woody up and bring him to work. At the end of the day, they will return him home.” The employees have enjoyed Woody’s company so much that many of them have adopted their own pets. “We have converted non-dog people into dog lovers because they have enjoyed the benefits of having a dog around.”
Woody is the agency greeter as he welcomes everyone who comes through the door. From the mail carrier to clients, they all enjoy the unconditional attention and affection of the agency’s four-legged employee. Gronholz has also noticed additional benefits to having Woody in the office. “Our employees seem to get less stressed out. Woody is a great listener and is helpful to have around after a particularly tough call.” Gronholz includes caring for Woody as part of his agency incentive program. “Team members earn points for various activities throughout the month. Caring for Woody is included as one of the point earners.” This care includes taking Woody on walks around the neighborhood. “Not only do they get out and get some fresh air and exercise, but our neighbors also are starting to get to know our employees and Woody.”
At Finance Systems of Green Bay, Inc., Keeb, the English Springer Spaniel, has been a regular fixture for the past several months. “I would often bring Keeb to work with me on Fridays, but since this past June, he has joined us on a full-time basis.” Like Woody, Keeb also has brought many positive benefits to the agency. “He has a real calming effect and people just seem to get along better,” Shavlik notes. And it’s not just Shavlik who is seeing the benefits. One employee posted this about Keeb on the agency Facebook page: “I can see an instant change in the overall energy and morale of myself and my colleagues. There should be more ‘furry friends’ mixed within our daily lives.” For his part, Keeb also enjoys his time in the office. “He is up and ready to go in the morning, and when it is 5:00 in the afternoon, he knows it is time for us to go home and have some quality time together.”
Keeb, who is 9 years old, is a trained hunting dog. Shavlik gives this advice to anyone considering bringing their dog to work. “I have worked with Keeb since he was a puppy, so he knows appropriate inside behavior and is not a distraction. I think that’s so important if you want an office dog to be an integral part of your team,” he notes. “It’s also crucial to have the buy-in of your staff. We made sure everyone was okay with having a dog in the office before Keeb starting coming to work regularly,” Shavlik adds.
Both Keeb and Woody have an avid fan following. “Clients are always asking me how Woody is doing, even before we talk about their business,” Gronholz indicates. And Keeb has been garnering a lot of attention on Finance Systems of Green Bay’s Facebook Page. “I can post great content that will help clients do their job better and it will get a little interest, but when I post a photo of Keeb, I get multiple likes and comments,” Shavlik reports.
Managing a successful collection agency can be a very stressful endeavor. It is so encouraging to see our GLCCA members finding ways to build culture and increase job satisfaction. What about you? Have you ever considered bringing your dog to work? We’d love to hear your team culture and engagement ideas!