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Should I pet or should I work? Human-animal interactions and (tele)work engagement: an exploration of the underlying within-level mechanisms

Ana Junça Silva (ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal) (Management Superior School, Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, Tomar, Portugal)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 27 December 2022




Human–animal interactions (HAIs) have been found to have an extensive and significant influence on individuals' well-being and health-related outcomes. However, there are few studies that examine this influence on work-related contexts, such as teleworking. In this study, the author relied on the affective events theory to examine the effect of daily HAI on employees’ daily work engagement and the underlying mechanisms (daily affect ratio and state mindfulness), by resorting to a daily diary study.


To test the hypotheses, the author collected daily data during five consecutive working days with pet owners (N = 400 × 5 = 2,000).


Multilevel results showed that interacting with pets during the working day was positively associated with daily work engagement, but this positive relationship was stronger for individuals with lower levels of mindfulness. Further analyses showed that the daily affect ratio mediated the moderating effect of mindfulness on the relationship between daily interactions with pets and daily work engagement.

Practical implications

These findings provide strong support for the proposed mediated moderation model; indeed, positive affect and mindfulness help to explain the positive effect of HAIs on work engagement. Hence, managers may consider the adoption of teleworking, even in a hybrid format for those workers who own pets, because interacting with pets may be a strategy to make them feel more positive and, in turn, more enthusiastic, dedicated and absorbed in their work.


This study is one of the first studies to demonstrate the importance of adopting pet-friendly practices, such as allowing pet owners to telework, as a way to promote daily work engagement.



Compliance of ethical standard statement: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants involved in the study.

Data availability: The data is available only upon reasonable request to the author.

Conflict of interest statement: The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.


Junça Silva, A. (2022), "Should I pet or should I work? Human-animal interactions and (tele)work engagement: an exploration of the underlying within-level mechanisms", Personnel Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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