September 22, 2023

Benefits to Bringing Pets to Work

By Sonya D. Lavett

When employees come into work and provide minimal and lackluster effort, it is draining on a company and its profits. It’s no wonder that many statistics show an unengaged and unhappy workforce in the U.S. Businesses that are truly invested in the happiness of their employees are wise to the fact that creative benefits help create a more engaged workforce, loyal workers and an overall increase in productivity.

The bottom line is that happy employees produce more for a company and are less likely to leave.

One significant way that employers are inviting a happier and more productive workforce is to allow employees to bring their pets to work. In a culture where Americans spend the majority of their time in the office, away from their homes, pet lovers (and beloved Fido) lament over the fact that too much time is being spent apart.

For the employee, time away leads to an increase in anxiety, depression and other health issues, which has a direct and negative impact on wellness. For animal lovers, the presence of a pet has been scientifically linked to having a direct and positive impact on both physical and emotional health. It is also worth noting that sitting all day at a desk has proven to cause serious health issues. Getting up every so often to quickly walk your dog is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health as well.

How does this work?  Some of the top organizations mentioned in Fortune, such as Build-a-Bear Workshop, GoDaddy, Google, Mars and Salesforce have been offering this perk to employees for many years. They recognize that not everyone is a pet lover, so they work hard to incorporate policies and procedures that will protect everyone, from the dog or cat lover to the employee who suffers with allergies.

One important item to consider is how well your animal behaves. Obviously a well-trained pet will be much less likely to act as a distraction as you focus on your work.

Atlantic Healthcare has even gone so far as to make pet-loving employees part of the health care regimen for patients. The New Jersey based hospital introduced the pet therapy program in 2012 and named it “Soothing Paws.” More than 80 volunteers participate daily in sharing their pets with the patients in order to help them heal and make a more speedy recovery.

For those individuals who do not yet own a pet, some organizations offer a pet “check-out.” Think of it as a pet library in the company building. Employees can borrow a cat or a dog for the day and share their office space. Employees report feeling happier, relaxed and some even document lower blood pressure. Many employees who go this route end up adopting the animal permanently, as working together creates a strong bond between human and animal.

Pro-animal organizations could not be happier about this kind of scenario, describing it as a win-win situation, creating happier employees an orphaned animal finds a new home.

Since many businesses have already adopted a pet-friendly work environment and are touting its success, there are plenty of ideas for policies and procedures out there for all of you HR thinkers. It just takes a little research and an open mind.