Employers are always looking for ways to make their workplace an employer of choice. While offering huge bonuses and generous salaries seems like an easy way to bring in top talent, it’s not always feasible, particularly for smaller organizations. Also, money isn’t always the main concern for potential employees. Companies are beginning to consider non-traditional family members, including pets, as one area where they can provide additional benefits to attract and retain talent.
The decision about whether or not to allow employees to bring their pets to the office isn’t always an easy one. While a paws-friendly policy could be great in theory, not all workplaces are going to be conducive to this kind of change, and it’s the employer’s responsibility to determine whether including pets in the workplace will be beneficial or not for their specific organizational structure.
So why have pets at work? Some might think it is all ‘fluff’, but beyond attracting pet-loving employees, there are also a number of psychological and physical reactions that occur when people have a positive relationship with animals. According to a number of studies, the presence of pets—dogs in particular—may actually help to reduce a person’s blood pressure, reduce stress, alleviate chronic pain, and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
By allowing employees to bring their pets to work, employers may also help to improve the work-life balance of employees by allowing their staff to take care of their personal responsibilities while at work. Potential benefits of this include an increased willingness to put in longer hours at the office, and making the employer a more attractive option for job seekers.
Although the list of potential benefits may be long, there can be a flip side to having pets in the workplace. Concerns such as allergies, distractions, damage to property, employee phobias, and legal liability should all be taken into consideration. This might be a difficult side of the decision for ‘pet’ people to grasp; after all, who doesn’t love having a four-legged friend lick your hand in the middle of the workday? The reality is that not all workplaces are a good fit, and there are a number of factors that might tip the scales in favour of leaving Toto at home.
Pets at work can be a wonderful perk in certain environments, when the program is managed correctly. However, despite the potential benefits, having pets at work requires some significant planning for the program to be successful. Take a “paws”, step back, and dedicate some time to consider all the factors of adopting pet-friendly work practices.
*It should be noted that this article refers strictly to pets, and not to service animals required for workplace accommodations.
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