Need an excuse to behold the unbearable cuteness of puppies? You can thank Japanese researcher Hiroshi Nittono of Hiroshima University – a couple years ago, his team discovered that looking at photos of baby animals boosts focus and productivity.
Queue the puppy picture parade – it's time to get your productivity on.
Your Brain on Cute
Nittono's study revealed that looking at pictures of puppies markedly improves your mood and work performance. But how?
His team found that after study participants viewed images of ridiculously cute animals (puppies and kittens), performance improved much more than it had after viewing grown animals (dogs and cats). When participants viewed pleasant foods, the images had little effect on their performance.
Though a study from 2011 shows that short web-surfing breaks from work can boost performance because people tend to work better when they have time to refresh, the Hiroshima University researchers may be on to something else entirely. The researchers posit that the cute-work phenomenon may be connected to nurturing instincts. They figure if someone looks at a photo of a tiny animal, their nurturing instincts kick in and increase their attention and focus, which they can pour into their work.
We conducted a very informal experiment where we showed this photo to a few of our team members:
Responses ranged from "fluffy, cute, love, snuggle" and "ADORABLE! SQUEE!" to "bring him inside." Spirits were lifted and workers rejoiced. One employee in particular found a renewed passion for writing about insurance after gazing upon that sweet face.
And there you have it, folks. Puppies are the key to getting more work done.
Working Better, Faster, Stronger, Cuter
This information may seem to have little practical application in the small business workplace, but keep in mind that employee happiness and productivity is pivotal to your business's overall performance. According to a joint study by the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute, happier workers…
- Help others out 33 percent more than their discontent peers.
- Achieve their goals 31 percent more often.
- Are 36 percent more motivated.
An added bonus? A recent study found that happy employees are healthy employees. That means your business benefits from:
- Reduced absenteeism. The Integrated Benefits Institute found that sick days cost businesses $227 billion in lost productivity.
- Possibly fewer Workers' Compensation Insurance claims. Employee happiness is essential to any wellness program, and wellness programs improve worker safety. One study showed that wellness contributes to safer workplaces, meaning fewer occupational injuries and subsequent Workers' Comp claims.
To boot, happy employees are also engaged employees – they tend to produce higher caliber work and take better care of your clients.
All this is to say, you really have nothing to lose here. At worst, you and your employees have spent five minutes looking at cute puppies doing cute puppy things. At best, you improve employee morale and develop your company's culture as a cool, animal-loving work environment. That's something to woof about.