21 June 2018

Who Let the Dogs In?

Working in HR, you’ve probably noticed that pet-friendly workplace policies are getting buzz. According to SHRM, 7 percent of employers now allow pets to come to work with their owners. That may sound like a relatively small number, yet it’s up 5 percent from five years ago, indicating this low-cost employee benefit may be starting to take hold.

Is it time for your company to open its doors to employee pets? Consider the pros…

Pets Help Employees De-Stress
A study by Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who had their pets at work showed an 11 percent drop in stress levels by the end of the workday, as compared to a 70 percent spike in stress levels of employees who left their pets at home.

Pets Get People on Their Feet
Extended sitting is the latest workplace health hazard on HR radars. Costly solutions, like standing desks and treadmill desks, are cropping up in corporate America. Yet companies with pro-pet policies find that employees who bring pets to work maintain or increase their productivity while taking more standing breaks. Pets are a physical reminder to get in a 15-minute midday walk and re-energize both body and mind.

Pets Trigger Workplace Interaction
Many employers have moved to an open floorplan to encourage co-workers to actually talk to each other instead of using email. Perhaps the most unexpected side effect of pets in the workplace has been their positive impact on co-worker communication and cooperation. As it turns out, pets are natural conversation starters, triggering workplace interactions and promoting an atmosphere of teamwork.

Pets Improve Job Satisfaction and Employer Reputation
Looking for a way to boost your company’s employee engagement scores? When employees are permitted to bring their pets to work, they report higher levels of job satisfaction and have a more positive perception of their employer. It’s a non-financial benefit that employees often cite as their favorite perk — and speaks to the growing demand among workers for work-life balance. A recent survey of HR decision makers indicated a whopping 65 percent of candidates ask if the company has a pet-friendly policy.

Be Prepared for Fido
It’s clear that a pro-pet policy can benefit both worker and employer, but what are the cons?

It’s true, there are many considerations to prepare for when creating and communicating a policy of your own. How will behavioral issues, like barking or aggression, be managed? If messes occur, who’s responsible for cleanup? What about employees with pet allergies or fear of animals? What is an employer’s liability if someone is bitten or otherwise harmed by an animal on company property?

These kinds of concerns still deter many employers from opening their doors to employee pets. But some of America’s leading companies are proving that when pet policies are done right, the risk is well worth the reward.

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