Pets at Work: Blessing or Nuisance?
Wed, April 14, 2021

Pets at Work: Blessing or Nuisance?

Workplace stress causes negativity and oftentimes creates a tense environment for most employees. Today, bringing your pet to work to ease stress in the office is a trend that has been growing, especially in smaller companies / Photo by: lightfieldstudios via 123RF

 

Workplace stress causes negativity and oftentimes creates a tense environment for most employees. Today, bringing your pet to work to ease stress in the office is a trend that has been growing, especially in smaller companies. According to an article titled “The Rising Trend of Pets at Work” written by Krystal D’Costa, LinkedIn, an American business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps, has more than 178 search results for “dog-friendly” jobs in New York, which means that certain companies have a designated office dog or that employees are allowed to bring their own dogs to work. This is most likely because of the result of studies that have found that pets in the workplace can create benefits for employers and employees alike—factors that affect employees correlate with improved office morale, lesser instances of absenteeism, and a healthy work-life balance, according to an article featured on the website of the University of Southern California, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences.

 

Benefits of Pets at Work

There is a growing need for creating more pet-friendly work environments, as stated in an article presented by Purina, a pet care company. It added that more than two-thirds or 68% of people across Europe would bring their pets to work if given the choice. This shows the shift in values given importance by today’s employees, with millennials most enthusiastic about this development, with 90% of respondents from Switzerland agreeing. For now, only 12% of the people surveyed actually work in a pet-friendly office in Europe.

The results of a 2019 research, which was a collaboration between Lincoln University and global market research company IPSOS published in an article titled “Taking Dogs Into the Office: A Novel Strategy for Promoting Work Engagement, Commitment, and Quality of Life,” showed that employees who take their dogs to work reported the top 4 out of 10 benefits of allowing pets to work. For instance, 53% of those who bring dogs to the office thought that this action saves them from the guilty feeling of leaving their canine companion alone at home. Additionally, 40% believed that bringing a pet reduces stress in the workplace and that pets create a more relaxing environment. Moreover, 36% agreed that bringing pets help improve work/life balance.

The report also found that pet-friendly offices are able to attract more talent, with a company’s policy on pets influencing the choices of potential employees. Around 39% of Europeans favor a company if bringing a dog to work is possible while there were only 13% of respondents who said that bringing children to work is important. On the other hand, 33% said free lunch at the office makes the company more attractive to them while 28% said it’s getting a company car. The figures in Switzerland were higher, with 55% saying that being able to bring a dog to work is a key factor in favoring a company. Among millennials, this option was ranked as the third-most important benefit in a future or potential company. This was deemed to be more important than even health insurance. On the other hand, the three main reasons an employee would not bring their pet to work would be because they believe their pet is not suitable for the work environment (16%), pets would just be a distraction (14%), and it is impractical and inconvenient (9%).

Tips for Having Pets in the Workplace

More than 60% of Americans own a pet. It is not surprising that there exists a shift in permitting access for pets in places that were not allowed before. The benefits that come with bringing a pet to work will depend on their owner and the employee. To an extent, pets in the workplace can benefit work-life balance, breaking bad habits of working continuously to the point of inhibiting productivity. Short walks, playtime, and temporary breaks allow for short rests so as not to be overworked. The Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) found that pet ownership is responsible for saving almost $11.7 billion yearly from physician office visits and various health and obesity concerns. Pets come out as a proactive method of staying healthy. 

Pets are beneficial in the workplace, but proper steps must be taken first, such as ensuring that the pet maintains good hygiene. This means pets should be groomed, cleaned, and free of contagion or fleas, with their vaccinations up to date.

Pets are beneficial in the workplace, but proper steps must be taken first, such as ensuring that the pet maintains good hygiene. This means pets should be groomed, cleaned, and free of contagion or fleas, with their vaccinations up to date / Photo by: Varin Rattanaburi via 123RF

 

Introduce new pets slowly, as animals must be acclimated to new environments, other pets, and new people as these changes can stress the animals and cause destructive behavior. It is also important to check if existing team members are comfortable with pets around the workplace, or if these individuals have allergies. As human teammates are the priority in the workplace, they must be fully aware and prepared to have an animal in their midst.

Employers must be ready to create a work environment conducive to pets, including pet-proofing the office and being ready for accidents that may cause legal issues. More than just the benefits that come with bringing a pet to work, we must also understand that pet animals must also be healthy and happy to help employees become more relaxed, productive, and satisfied.