MONDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Allowing employees to bring their dogs to work appears to reduce stress and boost job satisfaction levels, according to a new study.

The research was conducted at a service-manufacturing-retail company in Greensboro, N.C., which has about 550 employees and allows up to 30 pet dogs on company premises each day.

Over the course of a week, Virginia Commonwealth University researchers compared stress levels and job satisfaction among those employees who brought their dogs to work, those who didn't bring their dogs to work, and employees without pets.

The study found that dogs in the workplace seemed to help reduce job-related stress for their owners and make work more satisfying for other employees who came into contact with the dogs.

"Although preliminary, this study provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employees' pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support and commitment," principal investigator Randolph Barker, a professor of management in the VCU School of Business, said in a university news release.

"Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference," he added. "The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms."

The findings were published in the March issue of the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.

Stress is a major cause of absenteeism, poor morale and burnout and can lead to significant declines in productivity and resources, the researchers noted.

"Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support," Barker said. "Of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about stress.