There are a whole bunch of reasons why you may want to bring your pet to work with you. With more and more individuals and families opting to add a furry friend to their lives, the relationship between pets and humans has never been closer, more popular, or so readily accepted.
We’re going to list the pros and cons of bringing your pet to work, and just in case you’re lucky to have landed a corporate job where pets are allowed, we’ll look at some tips for keeping a pet in the office.
Accepted norms tend to change and morph in order to adapt to newer ideologies. We’ve begun to see more and more companies and employers allow employees to bring their pets to work – and there are seemingly some significant benefits in that – on both sides of the deal. That shift has been happening quickly and rapidly – although not that quietly. Back in 2018, TIME reported that Amazon’s Seattle headquarters was inhabited by about a thousand dogs – thanks to the company’s dog-friendly policy. The retail giant was just one of the 8% of US workplaces that allowed dogs to come to work with their owners, according to a study carried out by the Society of Human Resource Management around the same time – and that number was up from 5% in 2013.
People who bring their pets to work can provide a slew of benefits and positives for all employees. However, there are also pitfalls that need to be considered and debated before enacting a bring your pet to work policy. While not an easy decision, pet-friendly workplaces can have healthy, positive effects on your staff when they’re done correctly.
Benefits of Bringing Your Pet to Work
Over the years, there have been numerous studies carried out, and one thing has become clear – pets in the office can work wonders for both your company and employees. Animals lower stress levels, they promote interactions between staff and departments, and it’s been proven that having progressive policies in place can be great for your corporate image – and for your chances of attracting top talent too. Let’s look at some of the primary benefits that happen when you bring your pet to work:
Lowers Stress and Increases Job Satisfaction
A 2012 study by the Virginia Commonwealth University found that bringing a pet to the office may make a positive difference by reducing stress levels and increasing job satisfaction for other employees. With stress being one of the largest contributors to employee absenteeism, burnout, and decreased morale, promoting a pet inclusive workplace might well reduce adverse effects on your staff.
“Although preliminary, this study provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employees’ pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support, and commitment,” said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management in the VCU School of Business.
Increase in Employee Retention
People who get to take their dogs to work seem to exhibit increased contentment levels with their current employment. A study of UK-based employees, conducted in 2019, found that a group that brought their dogs to the office showed less inclination to switch jobs in the near future. On a broader basis, many surveyed employees have professed a positive predisposition toward employers with a bring your pet to work policies in place. Such policies can not only encourage additional applicants, but they can also increase employee retention. The reason for that isn’t obvious, but it could be that those accustomed to bringing their pets to work are hesitant to look for work elsewhere because they may not have the same options once they move.
Many large companies are using bring your pet to work policies as a recruiting tactic. Companies such as Google, Amazon, Etsy, and Ben & Jerry’s all have such a pet policy in place – and they report positive effects on their ability to recruit talent. In fact, Ben and Jerry’s – a company founded by two hippies with zero business experience in the 70s and dedicated to making a positive social impact for just has long – has been doing things a different way to the rest of corporate America since its inception. Ben and Jerry’s is known for its positive corporate culture and has people lining up at the door for interviews. Implementing a similar pet-friendly policy and departing from a few accepted norms might just help your company attract the best applicants in your sector and area too.
Decrease the Stresses from Pet Care Costs
Many working pet owners lament the costs associated with doggy day-care, grumble about the hourly rate for cat-sitters, or even turn up their nose at the price of an au pair for their hamster. By putting your own pet-friendly policy in place, you’ll be offering your employees added savings throughout the year. They can use the extra money for other things, and that’ll likely be greatly appreciated – it’s an excellent way to reward the efforts of your staff.
Making sure your staff have open channels of communication can have widespread positive implications for productivity and efficiency. Pets in the office increase communication between different employees and departments. Employees may feel more comfortable introducing themselves to meet a new furry friend or may find it easier to strike up a conversation about pet ownership. Such discussions and relationships are invaluable in promoting and fostering productivity, intradepartmental communication, and efficiency.
Positive Company Image
Allowing pets in the office is a more progressive and friendly policy. Doing so may make your customers perceive your company as being more progressive, social, and open to new trends and ideas. That can be useful in nurturing customer relationships and gaining new accounts.
Disadvantages of Bringing Your Pet to Work
Of course, allowing pets in the office can present some challenges. People and pets all have unique personalities, and sometimes they clash – but that’s no reason to abandon your plans to put a pet policy in place. Taking the time to be aware of any possible complications will help you prepare and implement the right measures – before any issues arise:
It’s worth remembering that many people have phobias and fears of animals and pets. Such fears are difficult to control, so allowing pets into the workplace could create an uncomfortable work environment and situation for some employees, leading to decreased productivity and a problematic, tense atmosphere.
Similarly, some employees may have allergies to animals and pets. Allergies are unavoidable and may require medication, and in some extreme cases, hospitalizations. That’s likely also to create difficult or impossible working conditions for some employees.
Pets require a certain amount of attention throughout the day. That includes time to eat, play, and use the bathroom. It may be difficult for employees to accommodate an animal’s needs around scheduled meetings or deadlines.
Although we like to believe that our pets are perfect, some simply aren’t. Many pets tend to bark, howl, growl or hiss at other animals and humans. That could end up proving slightly distracting for colleagues and co-workers.
Many religions consider some animals to be unclean and discourage devotees from touching them. You may not want to introduce these animals into the workplace and doing so could make navigating the office more difficult for those members of staff.
Potential Legal Issues
Providing a workplace that is clean and clear of injury hazards is the goal of every employer and the right of every employee. Some animals may become aggressive and could lash out, bite, claw, or scratch an employee. Not only that, but dogs and cats present a trip hazard and like to run around occasionally. That could all lead to some legal issues and may complicate your workers’ compensation policy. Be sure to review your insurance measures and discuss a pet-inclusive policy with your provider before you implement any new scheme in order to ensure every eventuality is covered.
Tips for Creating a Bring Your Pet to Work Policy
When deciding to put a pet-friendly policy in place, there are a few tips and tricks which should help make the transition easier and smoother. You’ll want to specify certain conditions in terms of each pet’s health and temperament. It’s also essential to keep everyone in the loop, even employees who don’t plan on bringing a pet to the office:
- Pets must be healthy before they can come to work. Any animal that is sick should get left at home.
- Pets should be kept up to date with all their vaccinations.
- Pets should be well-groomed at all times.
- Pets should have good hygiene and be kept clean.
- Pets should be introduced slowly. They’ll thank their owners for that too.
- Inform other employees of specific pet needs and behaviors. Help your co-workers understand how your pet may react in particular situations and when they might get stressed.
Conclusion: Bring Your Pet to Work, but Be Considerate
As we’ve learned, there are many positives to be had when you have animals in the office, but it’s necessary to consider your colleagues. Like most aspects of American corporate life, manners matter when it comes to the workplace – and having animals around just means you might need to take a little extra care.
That said, the advantages of having pets around the office far outweigh any negatives. As an employer or manager, it’s well worth considering putting something in place. If you’re apprehensive, why not create a Bring Your Pet to Work Day? That would provide an opportunity for what’s essentially a dry run, allow you to identify potential problems, and give employees a chance to weigh up the pros and cons of bringing pets to work too!