The latest—and furriest—way to ease workplace stress

Some firms are inviting in furry friends to boost employee morale and ease workplace stress, Andrea Sachs reports for the Washington Post.

In most workplaces, feelings of stress and overextension are a growing part of everyday professional life. About 50% of Americans experience consistent exhaustion due to work, compared to just 18% two decades ago, according to a nationwide survey.

Many organizations are fighting employee burnout by hosting an office petting zoo, Sachs writes. Playing with animals can lower your blood pressure, says Alan Beck, Purdue University's director of the Center for the Animal-Human Bond. Similarly, studies have shown that spending time with therapy dogs can significantly reduce stress levels. 

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Tiny Tails to You, an Austin-based traveling petting zoo, has chilled out employees at tech giants like Apple and Facebook, Sachs adds. Unconventional perks like office animals may be especially alluring for millennials, says Jason Dorsey, president of the Center of Generational Kinetics. "Millennials often know they won't be able to retire, so why not have fun at work?" he says.

Animal encounters at the office can pose some risk. Not every furry guest may be well-behaved, so it's best to keep a spare shirt and some paper towels nearby, Sachs notes.  

Petting zoos can offer stress relief options that run the gamut from lizards to teacup pigs, she notes. At Dataprise, puppies from a local rescue center recently helped employees unwind. For professionals who usually juggle multiple tasks at once, it's a welcome change of pace to "juggle multiple puppies instead," says Charlie Chiochankitmun, a program manager at the firm (Sachs, Washington Post, 12/1).

Related: Help your students land jobs that won't burn them out

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