Let me first open this blog with a disclaimer: MUST LOVE DOGS TO APPRECIATE THIS POST!!!! This week I had one of the most unique experiences while visiting a client’s site. It was Nestle Purina in St. Louis, MO. Much of the talk about Missouri these days is all about what’s going in Ferguson, which happens to be 20 minutes away from the client’s site. But I wasn’t there to protest. I was there to conduct a full day of sessions on Diversity & Inclusion, Unconscious Bias, Best Practices of Successful Business Resource Groups, Leadership, and Career Success. As I entered the lobby and approached the receptionist’s desk, I noticed a life size painting that draped the wall as the centerpiece of the lobby. It was this photo affectionately referred to as their Board of Directors:
Immediately after receiving my visitor’s badge, my hostess began to walk me towards the conference center down the corridor. The lobby was quite active as it was 8:00 am and associates were beginning to arrive to work for the day. But much to my surprise, I began to see workers arriving with dogs (on lashes of course) and I became intrigued. I turned to my hostess with all seriousness and asked, “Is today bring-your-dog-to-work day?” She laughingly replied, “I guess you could say that, but every day is bring-your-dog-to-day here at Purina.” Being a dog parent to 3 dogs and a major dog lover, I was in “dog heaven.” I couldn’t have been more impressed.
Once I got set up in their new state of the art training auditorium, I conducted the 2 hour first session with nearly 60 HR professionals at Nestle Purina, and it went great. But after the session, while lunch was being served, I couldn’t resist the urge to request a tour of the facility to see how the dogs live at work every day. My first introduction was to Duke and Ralph.
As you can see, dogs live the cubes with their owner and have doggie gates. Where the names of the associates appear on their offices/cubes, so does the name of the furry friend. Many of the cubes were their home away from home and were lined with their favorite toys, their beds, and water tins. In the back of the building is a dog park where they can go for a walk and to release. Dogs feel quite at home while at the office and everyone knows each other’s pet.
I was curious and asked the question if they had a pre-requisite that anyone working at Purina MUST LOVE DOGS, and the answer was, NO. I assume however, that it would be quite difficult to work there though and if you don’t like dogs, are afraid of dogs, or are allergic to pet hair. Nestle Purina has become the benchmark for how to work, live, and love your pets at work. They have shared their policies with other companies who have implemented their pet policy. In addition to their great pet policy, I had the opportunity to hear their CHRO reaffirm how important it was for them to take control of their work and life balance, prioritize and determine if they really needed to be in all meetings, and to be sure to stay home if they are sick. I so appreciated hearing this come from the CHRO. He was walking the talk!! Kudos to Steve.
I’m thrilled that all sessions went so well that I was invited back next year. But I have to admit that the highlight of my visit was seeing how Nestle Purina represents their company and values so well, and the new and innovative way to make our four-legged friends feel welcome and appreciated at work.