In today’s modern workplaces, it’s becoming increasingly common to see pets at work. From Google to Mashable to Amazon, pet-friendly policies are welcoming canine companions into the workplace on a daily basis. So what does it mean for employees and employers? When and how are pets acceptable in the workplace?
The Benefits of Pets in the Workplace
Approximately 68% of families own a pet. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 8% of workplaces in the U.S. allow dogs to accompany their owners to their job sites. It’s perhaps not surprising that more and more employers are welcoming dogs into the workspace—the benefits are numerous and there is certainly a cultural shift widening the possibilities of where pets can travel and exist.
What’s it all about? Dogs in the workplace often provide more social support and interaction for employees. Having dogs in the office offers an opportunity for coworkers to interact and play with the dog. Additionally, according to one study that surveyed 31 companies in Kentucky, the presence of pets in the workplace provided their owners with an opportunity to express their personality. Additionally, results of the study found that the participants perceived pets in the workplace as helpful in reducing stress and positively impacting employee health.
Another study discovered that the mere presence of a companion dog increased social behavior in work groups. As employers have long sought new strategies to improve group function and collaboration, the addition of a companion dog was found to elevate positive emotions and help support more cooperative, comfortable, and enthusiastic interactions among employees.
Without a doubt, the presence of pets in the workplace has many positive—and proven—benefits, ranging from stress relief to increased employee collaboration. So what are the drawbacks? What are some of the challenges of having a pet-friendly environment?
The Drawbacks of Pets in the Workplace
Although there are several studies that do show the benefits of pets in the workplace, one study has shown that the effects may not be drastically positive but rather veer towards a more neutral position. It’s easy to agree that a pet-friendly workplace seems more enjoyable. However, it’s essential to take into account the practicalities of having pets at an office. How might a company handle individuals with severe, or even minor, allergies? What about individuals with emotional trauma related to animals?
Some companies respond by creating separate work areas, adhering to strict “leash rules,” or limiting the pet-friendly days at the company. Some rooms, for instance, may be off-limits to pets.
The Effects of a Workplace on Pets
Sure — pets are good for our mental wellness and overall wellbeing at work and at home. But how do the pets respond to the workplace environment? What about the presence of dogs in a corporate environment? Is it a healthy situation?
The best recommendation is to evaluate each animal and owner on a case-by-case basis. For some dogs, spending the day in an office environment might be a great fit. For others, the situation may be stressful.
For companies looking to establish a pet-friendly environment, here are a few guidelines to consider:
Are there qualifications about health and/or behavior to allow pets into the workspace?
How will you handle pets that are stressed?
How will conflicts be addressed and handled?
If damages or injuries are sustained, how will the company handle the issue?
Are there any breeds that are prohibited?
Although the benefits of pets in the workplace may outweigh the negatives, when it comes to pets in the workplace, communication is key.
Connect with the industry’s most experienced team to learn more about pet-friendly workspaces!