Many employers are considering adding pet benefits to their workplace benefits plans because of societal trends during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
During the pandemic, millions adopted little furry friends to ease the anxieties and loneliness of being stuck at home. Now, many of those pet owners hope to bring their pets to work with them. Another issue is job seekers are starting to look for pet-friendly workplaces.
What does this mean for businesses? Are pets too much of a distraction in the workplace? What are the benefits of letting pets come to work with their owners? What are your responsibilities as business owners to both your employees and their pets?
In this article, we look at pet benefits and negatives in the workplace. Here's what you need to know both as an employee and business owner.
During the pandemic, nearly 1 in 5 American households adopted a pet. Over 85% of those are not considering rehoming those pets now that many are back in the office. Additionally, more than half of employees (52%) expressed support for pet-friendly workplaces, and 49% said that a pet-friendly environment could convince them to take up a job offer.
With the extra costs of boarding or walking their pets while at work, many pet owners would like to bring the pets with them to the office. As a business leader, attracting and retaining good employees is crucial as we return to normalcy. So, we might be inclined to jump in and adopt a pet-friendly policy in our workplaces.
Cons of Having Pets at Work
Heading up the list of negatives of having animals in the workplace? Allergies. In fact, 35% of those who do not want pets in the workplace cite allergic reactions. Allergies could affect the quality of life of the allergic worker. This makes having dogs and cats unfair.
Of those polled, a high percentage (84%) were working with their dogs (as opposed to other animals), making the allergy consideration top dog, as it were. With 10-20% of the world population allergic to pets, your pet policy must consider allergies.
Of those naysayers, about a third (31%) thought that pets would be too much of a distraction. 20% thought pets would make the workplace unsanitary. 8% worried about the smell, and 6% thought their workplace would become dangerous.
Pros of Having Pets at Work
Pet benefits in the office are very much what you might expect. Our furry friends offer a lot of pleasure and comfort. But there are hidden benefits to employers. First, there are apparent benefits of having pets around.
- Pets Make A Workplace More Relaxed
76% of respondents said that pets create a more relaxed work environment. For people accustomed to working at home in sweats, a comfortable environment is a plus to easing back into the office.
- Pets Reduce Stress
Stress in the workplace? Well, it's work. There are always deadlines and challenges. According to a study at the University of York and the University of Lincoln in England, Pets have a way of focusing on their human which is comforting and reduces stress.
- Bringing Your Pet to the Office Means Less Guilt
These pandemic pets helped your workers through that upheaval. Leaving the pets at home or in a kennel or even with a sitter feels like abandoning them.
But pets in the offices have further benefits that should make employers prick up their ears.
In this increasingly competitive job market, social norms and expectations are changing. Employers could take advantage of benefits that support increased employee engagement and satisfaction. According to Forbes magazine, respondents said the following about having pets in the office:
- 49% said a pet-friendly environment could encourage them to take up a job offer
- 41% said pets increased their sense of job satisfaction;
- 51% said pets could increase socialization with introverted co-workers
- 46% said pets could make them more likely to recommend their employer to a friend.
These benefits suggest that employees would be happier and more engaged in the office. But would they be more productive?
In a surprising study held at the Washington State University, they observed people who interacted with dogs at work. Due to that interaction, workers were able to use thinking and planning skills more effectively.
In a study at Virginia Commonwealth University, coworkers would come and offer to take dogs for walks. They are benefiting from the destressing interaction and a little exercise, too, which has proven to affect concentration positively. Dogs were a great bonus to employee morale Increasing employee engagement and productivity at work.
To capitalize on these benefits, over half of 500 executive-level managers planned to allow pets in the office. Other perks being adopted include "peternity" or "pawternity" leave. This is usually one day to one week's leave when an employee adopts a new pet or rescue pet. And it could also be a few hours off here and there as the pet needed it.
Many employees consider their pets family members. They would like to see changes in-work benefits to embracing that idea. In a survey reported in Benefits Canada, 77% of respondents said they would like to see pet leave allowed at their workplace. 69% also had a positive outlook on pet healthcare insurance, 77% of those believing it should be instituted at their workplace.
Deciding What Pet Policy Works for You
As an employer, pets in the workplace mean adjustments to insurance. Offering pet insurance as part of your workplace benefits is a big decision. What pet policy would work best for your company and contribute best to employee pet wellness. There are many considerations.
Firstly, which policy offers superior benefits with great choices for deductibles. Which have the lowest out-of-pocket claims costs? Which has the shortest waiting period? What about special conditions? Which covers kittens and puppies? What extras are they offering? And what coverage do they have for Service Dogs? And finally, which company or policy offers pet wellness packages?
Pet Wellness With Wagmo
Pet wellness packages are a method of allowing your employees to cover ongoing pet care costs. Pets incur costs every year, including check-ups, vaccinations, and even grooming. If you are an employer interested in setting up a Pet Wellness Program at work to help your employees offset the high cost of pet ownership, contact us today for information.