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Hi-tech staff take a moment to paws

If you’re having a ruff day, there’s nothing like a dog to make it better. And that’s exactly what four new canine recruits did at one of Ilkley's most high-tech businesses.

SmartSearch, the UK’s leading provider of anti-money lending (AML) software, invited the four furry friends into its Ilkley headquarters as part of a wellness day for its 170 staff.

The results were amazing. Eighty members of the SmartSearch team booked sessions to spend time with chocolate Labrador Rosie, Cockapoos Sally and Tilly and Cavapoo Barkley – all carefully chosen for their temperaments and love of people.

Kate Soames, whose Leeds-based company Moment to Paws provided the dogs and supervised the time with them, said: “Watching the effect that dogs have on people will never get old. As soon as people enter the room, you can visibly see any tension and stress disappear. Their shoulders relax and huge smiles come across their faces. It doesn't matter what else has happened that day. As soon as people start to interact with the dogs, their mood is instantly boosted. It's amazing to see.”

Even people who had previously been afraid of dogs booked themselves on to one of the eight, ten-minute sessions. “One of them ended up staying for two sessions,” added Kate.

Multi award-winning SmartSearch puts staff wellbeing at the core of its ethos, working hard to ensure that all employees enjoy a good work/life balance and providing leisure facilities like an on-site gym, pool table, table tennis, table football and gaming area.

The company is particularly focussed on the morale and mental health of its staff and hosts regular staff surveys and wellness days. SmartSearch also involves local charities in these days. In this case, it was Leeds Mind, an independent charity which promotes better mental health for all.

Dogs, said Czech author Milan Kundera, are our link to paradise – and the calming effect they had at SmartSearch was typical of how we react to them. Dogs are clinically proven to reduce levels of cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress), boost mood-enhancing hormones (including serotonin and oxytocin) and lower blood pressure.

SmartSearch’s senior continual service improvement manager Henrietta Lebeter, who helped to organise the day, said: “We try to offer a range of different activities for our wellbeing days and time with the dogs ran alongside yoga sessions, an interactive online session on relaxation techniques, financial wellbeing drop-in sessions and pottery painting. The sessions were a great success. Everyone absolutely loved meeting the pups and the atmosphere in the office was great. It is fantastic to be able to run days like this for the SmartSearch team and I’ve already been asked when our new-found four-legged friends will be back.”


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