Some Companies Say Dogs Make for a Lower-Stress Workplace


Jeff Ford, CEO of Perks Worldwide, has turned his dog, Xee, into a company mascot. Xee, who accompanies Ford nearly every day, likes to spend time under his human’s desk when he’s not wandering in and out of other offices.
Jeff Ford, CEO of Perks Worldwide, has turned his dog, Xee, into a company mascot. Xee, who accompanies Ford nearly every day, likes to spend time under his human’s desk when he’s not wandering in and out of other offices. (Karen E. Segrave)
Jeff Ford, CEO of Perks Worldwide, has turned his dog, Xee, into a company mascot. Xee, who accompanies Ford nearly every day, likes to spend time under his human’s desk when he’s not wandering in and out of other offices.
Jeff Ford, CEO of Perks Worldwide, has turned his dog, Xee, into a company mascot. Xee, who accompanies Ford nearly every day, likes to spend time under his human’s desk when he’s not wandering in and out of other offices. (Karen E. Segrave)

Having dogs at work sets a fun tone and reduces employee stress, three Arkansas companies that welcome them in their offices told Arkansas Business.

Perks Worldwide of Little Rock takes the policy one step further, incorporating CEO Jeff Ford’s dog, Xee, into the company’s branding as a mascot.

Xee has is own place on the “leadership team” page of the firm’s website. His title? Vice president of canine relations.

Chief Marketing Officer Deb Broderson said Perks, an incentive and loyalty marketing company, has been dog-friendly “forever.” One employee even brought his snake to the office.

Xee started coming in about seven years ago, and Broderson enjoys walking him when she needs a minute to decompress.

“I think it changes the tone at an office. It lets you step away a bit and take a deep breath,” Boderson said. “It’s a way to increase employee engagement … you’re in a work environment and you’re just enjoying yourself more.”

Walking Xee helps her have a productivity, she said, and others at the office agree.

Unlike Perks Worldwide, the parent company of Arkansas Business, Arkansas Business Publishing Group, has a formal written pet policy that employees must sign. Guidelines require employees to be responsible for their dogs’ messes, make sure their dogs aren’t distracting co-workers and that they aren’t left unattended.

The big rule at Perks is to not bring dogs who fight with other dogs, Boderson said. Other common-sense expectations include responsibility for cleaning up any accidents.

Still, she encourages any company thinking about going dog-friendly to go for it. “It’s really a delightful experience … I think that it makes it easier for people. I think people like being in an environment where suddenly a dog could come over and, you know, it helps lighten the mood. It makes it easier if you are working long hours to have your pet there and not have to worry about them being at home.”

Miah Scogin, talent specialist at shopper marketing company Saatchi & Saatchi X in Springdale, agrees. She said being dog-friendly “just makes for a fun and more relaxed environment.”

The firm doesn’t have a formal dog policy but provides a clean-up station that has been a “game-changer” in getting employees to clean up their dogs’ messes. Employees are also told to have a co-worker watch their dog if they must attend a meeting without their furry companions.

She also suggested that companies opening their doors to dogs should lay out ground rules in a written policy, or at least discuss expectations.

Danny Koteras, creative director at the Little Rock advertising agency Stone Ward, agrees. He said companies that aren’t dog-friendly should “give it a shot,” but not before putting some rules in place.

Koteras said dogs in the workplace are part of a great environment at Stone Ward’s downtown offices above Big Whiskey’s. “How could you be sad when you see a dog wagging his or her tail at you?”