When Fido’s Your Colleague: The Benefits of a Pet-Friendly Worksite

Does the presence of a pooch make workers more productive? Does hearing a cat purr cause workers to be more creative? Is it easier to study legal briefs with a beagle at one’s side? If none of this sounds absurd to you, you’re not alone. In fact, more worksites are going pet friendly, either allowing pets to come to the office every day or establishing policies for occasional pet visitation.

Granted the numbers are still small. Only about 8% of workplaces were pet friendly in 2015. However, there are advantages to consider:

Stress reduction: Pets calm anxiety and make us happy. That’s why pet therapy is so effective in hospitals and long-term care facilities. There’s actually a science behind this phenomenon. Pets—specifically dogs—positively impact endocrine responses, including the stress hormone cortisol and adrenalin or epinephrine.

Also, never forget that many employees consider pets their family members. They worry about their pets being alone for long periods of time without companionship or exercise. With a pet by their side, they know who’s caring for their furry friends, and they won’t feel so compelled to rush home at lunch or at the end of the day to tend to them.

Creativity: Pets remind us that you’ve got to break from the grind and step outside for breaks. That’s actually a positive as workers who take the time for occasional walks can recharge their creativity. Of course, there’s a health bonus here, too, as a brisk walk with Fido gets one up and moving.

Team socialization: Nothing starts a conversation better than a cute puppy. And it’s hard to find those who don’t like to watch the antics of our animal kingdom friends. The bottom line is that pets can bring people together. They also remind us to “play nice” with one another because they provide great examples of the importance of loyalty and concern for others.

A perk apart from others: Adopting a pet-friendly policy is still unique among organizations, but it can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool. According to a study by Vancouver, Washington-based Banfield Pet Hospitals, pet-friendly companies are more likely to retain talent, with 82% of employees saying that they feel a greater sense of loyalty to employers as a result of pet-friendly workplace policies.

Also, along with a strong policy for bringing pets to work, other organizations make the offer even sweeter, instituting benefits such as pet day care, pet health insurance, time off for the death of a pet, and special perks for visiting animals.

Companies that have gone pet friendly report that it’s typically more than just another policy—it’s a part of the culture. For example, Replacements of Greensboro, North Carolina, realized that by honoring employees’ love for pets, they should do the same for customers. Therefore, pets are now allowed in stores—a big plus for the animal-loving public. Bissell, the vacuum-cleaning company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, not only encourages dogs in the office but also developed the Bissell Pet Foundation to promote pet adoption and animal welfare. More than $250,000 in grants are awarded each year.

Of course, there are those workers who don’t appreciate four-legged pals or simply can’t be around pets for health reasons. Therefore, it makes sense to have pet-free zones or just establish a few Bring Your Pet to Work days every few weeks.

Also, not all pets are perfect. There can be messes to clean and scuffles with other animals. Plus, not all pets know to keep the noise down. Therefore, you’ll need to establish rules and etiquette for pet owners. Tomorrow we’ll examine some key points for developing your pet-friendly policy.