If you want to get ahead get a pet!
Pets! Who needs them?!
You do; especially if you’re a rising executive hoping to de-stress and stay healthy while achieving better work-life balance. Furry friends also help you empathise and develop your emotional IQ – soft skills that may be essential to success in a senior team.
Pet ownership can also be a plus point during job interviews as well-informed main board directors are apt to sneak in a surprise question about you and your pets. It’s not just an oddball question to probe your softer side. The benefits of pet ownership are becoming more widely known and it’s good to know whether a top candidate ticks the right pet ownership boxes.
New data give paws, sorry, pause, for thought.
According to one US survey, 93% of top executives grew up with a pet and 78% partly attribute career success to childhood pet ownership. Survey respondents say having a pet taught a sense of responsibility and helped them show empathy.
Later in life, walking the dog helped them relax and come up with business ideas. Pet ownership also helps these executives connect with colleagues who also own pets.
Various surveys spotlight a pet’s knack of de-stressing owners and the ability of pets to “spread laughter and positivity”.
One US study (the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative) quantifies many benefits. For example, pet owners save an estimated $11.7 billion a year in visits to the doctor while the 20 million American owners who walk their dogs five times a week keep obesity in check and save $149 million in healthcare.
Many respondents credit pets with helping their work-life balance. Laptops and smart devices can merge home and office into one. The danger is that the executive never stops. But a pet can force you to take a break.
Similarly, workaholics who live at the office attest to the life-changing properties of pet ownership. Having a dog or cat waiting at home gives you a reason to call it a day.
Researchers increasingly focus on quite specific medical benefits.
They have found that pet owners tend to have healthier hearts and feel less depressed. When you own a pet, blood pressure and heart rates return to normal faster after a stress test. Performance under stress also improves.
Apparently, simply stroking your pet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
In a nutshell, if you’re animal crackers you’re less likely to crack up at work. That’s got to be good news for pet-friendly decisionmakers and the businesses they lead.
*Auguste (Gusti) Coetzer is a director of Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading recruitment company based in South Africa offering executive head-hunting and leadership consulting - servicing sub-Saharan Africa. www.signium.co.za
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