Home Thinking Aloud This Is Why Dogs Would Be Better At Workplace Engagement

This Is Why Dogs Would Be Better At Workplace Engagement


by Val Matta, vice president of business development at CareerShift

Malcolm Gladwell What the Dog Saw

There’s nothing more rewarding than coming home to a wagging tail or having a best friend working right beside you. Dogs understand what it means to create meaningful relationships with their owners – so why not take a few employee engagement ideas from our furry friends?

Engagement is one of the key factors driving a workplace to success – at least that’s what 50 of the best places to work reported to Quantum Workplace in their 2016 Employee Engagement Trends survey. These best-in-class companies all agree: engagement drives profit, revenue, market share, stock value, and employee retention.

Even with a higher emphasis on engagement in the workplace, companies throughout the U.S. are still missing the mark. According to Gallup’s 2014 Employee Engagement survey, only 31.5 percent of 80,837 U.S. employees are engaged in the workplace. In order to enhance retention, productivity, and employee happiness, employers need to find ways to bring this number up.

Here are some lessons leaders can learn from man’s best friend:

Dogs know all the best tricks.

From fetching the ball and rolling over to knowing when their owners need a wet, slobbery kiss – dogs know all the tricks in the book. Many of these tricks and traits can be incorporated into how businesses can create highly engaged employees.

Transparency and trust.

You know a dog is happy when they come running to the door to greet you. On the other hand, you can tell they’re upset when the trash is spread across the living room floor. Dogs instinctively know communication is important. They expect the same from you. They are able to clearly give – and receive – immediate positive and negative feedback. This sort of transparency is not as innate in human interaction and trust is often impacted.

Trust with our pets is built on wordless communication, since we can’t simply sit down and have a conversation with them. Unfortunately, businesses are having a much harder time building trust with employees. The ROI of Recognition In Building A More Human Workplace survey of more than 800 employees by Globoforce in November 2015 found 35 percent of respondents don’t trust the senior leadership in their company.

Being transparent in feedback, recognition, and overall, how the company runs, increases the trust between employees and leaders. Allow your team to view how the company functions. Use frequent one-on-one meetings to let them see how their work is contributing to the company as a whole and what leaders are doing behind the scenes to encourage their success. These informative meetings will help clarify roles, goals, and expectations — in turn, building relationships filled with trust.

Sweet recognition.

Dogs aren’t ashamed to proudly let you – or the world – know when you’ve done something right. Their wagging tails are a tell-tale sign you can always count on. Your employees deserve the same — well, not exactly a tail wag — but they do deserve to know what they’ve done right.

Your employees are working hard to do their jobs well — some are even going above and beyond the call of duty. Recognition is a great way to not only reward employees for their accomplishments, but to keep them engaged by clearly seeing how their work is adding value to the organization. There are endless possibilities for encouraging employees, so it’s important to keep recognition true to your company culture.

Some companies use online recognition tools which use a points system for leaders and co-workers to acknowledge one another’s achievements. If you have coffeeholics in the office, reward them with their favorite creamer in the break room — or even offer a Friday afternoon off. Showing employees you appreciate their hard work will entice them to continue working hard for the company.

Immediate availability.

“Come here, boy.” Utter these three words and you’ll immediately find your fur-friend by your side. While being instantly available isn’t always possible for leaders — and it isn’t encouraged for employees to whistle for their managers – it is crucial to let employees know you’re accessible. Engaged employees who know they can freely ask questions or get constructive feedback will spend more time being productive.

Show availability with an open-door policy. This will let employees know it’s safe to discuss any issue at, almost, anytime. Show the team your office is a safe place to bring concerns and even offer their feedback on how you can help them do their jobs better. This policy will fling the doors open on clear communication – and engagement – within the organization.


“You are my owner, and I shall love you for ever, no matter what.” Dogs are the most loyal companions, and your employees should understand the same from you — to an extent, of course. Workers who feel their leaders are behind them and are loyal to the same mission will be more engaged in the workplace.

Let employees know you have the company mission and their best interest at heart. Listen to employees’ concerns and invest in making improvements to benefit their everyday work environment and productivity. To really show your loyalty to your team, host company events outside of business hours to show appreciation for their personal interests and contributions as well.

Being transparent, recognizing hard work, and having high availability will lead to showing just how loyal you are to your team and organization and will gain their trust and loyalty in return. Start engaging your employees with these techniques now because – it turns out – you can teach an old dog new tricks after all.

What employee engagement ideas do you have? Let us know!



Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.