A part of achieving work-life balance is about the integration of certain aspects of our personal life into the workspace. No, it’s not just the free snacks, gym memberships, flexible hours and game room that attracts millennials – it’s an organisation’s pet policy. Yes, we’re talking about bringing our furry, scaled or feathered friends to work.
It’s been said that employers who understand and recognize the importance of their employees’ relationship with their pets have the opportunity to show how much they value work-life balance.
Our identities and lives are not confined to the space we occupy from 9 – 5. The employers who seize this opportunity to integrate or develop creative pet perks are able to attract millennial talent and a passionate workforce of pet lovers.
The case for a pet-friendly office:
Pets play an important role in our lives. Pet owners are bound to feel happier and more secure when they are able to bring their pet to the office. Having their furry loved one there beats the daily guilt trip and worrying as soon as they walk out the door leaving their pet unattended for.
While some companies and landlords are open to the idea, things are not so cut and dry here. Taking into account the sensitivities that need to be carefully considered on home ground – there’s still a way to make a pet-friendly policy work. (Nobody said it would be easy)
Some companies allow cats, dogs, turtles, birds and even lizards in their offices. But like most variables, a solid pet policy is dependent on the people, the industry you’re in, your office culture, your co-workers, and the environment. It’s also about paving the way to attract top talents who so happen to be animal lovers and pet owners too.
“We believe people and pets are better together. Especially at work. They help reduce stress. Encourage socializing. And get us moving. Which is exactly why we’re leading the #PetsAtWork movement.” – Purina
All the benefits you experience with your pet at home translates to your workplace. Pets have the ability to improve happiness and lift moods, so these perks are experienced throughout the day with your pet by your side. Need a pick me up? Pet your cat or dog.
Organisations like Google, Zynga, GoDaddy, Purina have pet-friendly policies that can attest to its positive effects. In addition to raising the cuteness quotient in the office, pets have the ability to lift your moods, especially if you’re having an unpleasant day.
According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s Pet-Friendly Workplace PAWrometer (pets at work barometer) study in the U.S., 7 in 10 Human Resource decision makers and employees stated that pets at work make a positive impact on office dynamics and workplace morale.
Dogs and cats are recognized as stress-relievers. You’ve heard of therapy dogs at hospitals? The effects are similar. A study conducted in 2012 showed that employees who were around dogs in the workplace reported feeling less stressed. Randolph T. Barker, the lead author on the study shared on Inc., “It’s a low-cost wellness benefit, and it could be a recruiting opportunity (for businesses).”
Research has shown that there are health benefits to owning a pet. For example, reducing blood pressure, boosting immunity in kids as they grow up, and helping people relax. Having a pet walk in a room can change the atmosphere and sometimes even the conversation. Which is a good thing if tension levels are running high or of your in an industry with a quick turnaround or deal with high-pressure projects.
Having your pet with you at work can help you feel more focused because your thoughts aren’t with your pet that’s alone at home. It can also be a huge help when you have to work longer hours, do overtime and have a long commute.
Long hours translate to extra time away from your pet. This negative experience can be improved with the help of a pet-friendly policy. With one in place, employees are more open to the idea of spending extra hours in the office which increases job satisfaction and productivity.
Having a pet around the office helps employees bond which in turn motivates good work. In fact, pets are a natural ice breaker. How else would you have had the chance to talk to Jada from accounting if she didn’t come over to see your cat? Pets in the office have been shown to facilitate employees interacting with one another – even those that wouldn’t normally go out of their comfort zones to do so.
Pets are a conversation starter. In addition to increasing the probability of collaboration and bonding, having a pet around can help strengthen work relationships in a way that regular team-building exercises can’t. There’s even the possibility that workplace gossip might decrease because everyone would rather talk about the pets than other people.
Do you find yourself staring at your screen for hours on end, sometimes even skipping lunch without noticing? Then having your pet in the office will help keep you on your feet and/or remind you to take a break if they’re in a different space around the office.
There are health risks associated with sitting for long hours, but the likelihood of it decreases if you’re moving about more often to check on, visit your pets. On a stressful day, taking your dog out for a walk could just be the relief you need.
A policy like this one helps employers attract new talent and as a plus point, the organisation gains a positive reputation. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the variables in play. It is important to keep the laws, sensitivities, benefits and drawbacks in mind during consideration. It’s more than putting together a document and while it can’t happen overnight, it wouldn’t hurt to suggest the idea during your team’s next honesty hour now, would it? #petsforthewin