In the archive department of the town hall in Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine) there is no need to ring the bell. Before you even reach the door, a young pygmy spitz barks inconveniently to announce your arrival. Falco, the little ball of hair from Haude, the archivist, “knows how to make himself heard”. For the past two years, the municipal agents in Suresnes have been able to come to work with their animals. “We mainly come across dogs,” explains Béatrice de Lavalette, assistant to the town hall in charge of human resources. Cats are much less sociable and caged animals are prohibited. As for the most original, they bring their goldfish.
About fifteen of the 1,200 municipal agents in the city now regularly work with his animals. “It is better for us employers because the agents are more productive, and it is better for the agents because they are less stressed. And it is of course good for dogs who are not left alone all day, concludes the assistant, who draws a very positive conclusion. It’s just more. »
“The atmosphere is not the same”
“The agents say that even before they see the dog, they know he is in the room because the atmosphere is not the same,” says Béatrice de Lavalette. Malika’s dog, Hades, has been adopted by the entire HR department. “He’s not even my dog anymore,” she jokes, looking for him in the open space. “Some people I had never spoken to before started coming to pet my dog and chat,” says his owner, who sees him as an “ice breaker”.
Its presence helps calm tension and reduce stress. “Animals feel that way,” Malika continues. It happened to me to be very stressed and to see him jump on me as if to tell me to calm down. Several masters point out that they weigh less by knowing their animals by their side. Colleagues also benefit from this. Some even offer to take the dog out for a walk to break their routine.
“If there are phobias or allergies, that’s what matters”
Before adopting her young spitz, Haude called each of her colleagues. “I wouldn’t take him home alone, but I wanted to be sure that no one would mind.” Colleagues may be the first to be disturbed by the presence of the animal, its barking… or its small accidents. “Last week there was a day when I didn’t understand that he wanted to go out, and there was an accident in my colleague’s office, she says. But she didn’t say anything, she even wanted to clean up.”
“Agents are still required to have their colleagues sign an agreement before they take their animals,” recalls Arnaud Levy, who is responsible for communications for City Hall. If there are phobias or allergies, this of course takes precedence. In cases where a person objects to the presence of the animal, his master can still take him when he is on leave or working remotely. On the other hand, it is impossible to work with your animal in services that welcome the public.
Many interested cities
So that the measure “only brings more” and does not bother anyone, the instructions are detailed in the town hall’s rules of procedure and in the collective agreement signed by the main unions. Documents sought after by many town halls. “More than twenty cities have already contacted us, reports Patrick Joly, staff member. They want to know how we managed to implement the measure. »
“At a time when it is difficult to recruit young people, it can be an attractive factor,” believes Béatrice de Lavalette. Young people are now less interested in job security than in well-being at work. The deputy recently spoke with the mayor of the 5th arrondissement, Florence Berthout, about her desire to extend the measure to agents from the city of Paris. A wish that was finally adopted at the last council in Paris. At the town hall in Suresnes, “we hope that the snowball effect will continue to spread”.