Research shows that having or interacting with a pet has a positive effect on both animals and people, so it seems logical that those benefits would carry into the workplace. However, only seven percent of employers allow their employees to bring their pets to work, up from five percent in recent years, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. With that in mind, Petco has declared April 19 “National Pets @ Work Day” to encourage more businesses to embrace a pet-friendly environment and raise awareness of the mutual benefits of a pets at work culture.
“On National Pets @ Work Day, we celebrate the benefits of having pets in the workplace as well as the growing number of employers that recognize these benefits, in terms of boosting team morale, reducing stress, increasing productivity and creativity, and improving employee health,” said Petco CEO Brad Weston. “With this day, our goal is to encourage more employers to make their workplaces pet friendly.”
Why Pets At Work?
Numerous studies show that bringing pets to the office can help:
- Improve employee health: With the stress and pressure that work can sometimes bring, the presence of animals—including even fish in tanks—can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Studies have also shown that people with pet dogs and cats made fewer doctor visits than those without pets.
- Reduce stress: A recent study of pet-friendly retail business found that employees’ self-reported stress levels declined when their dogs were present, while stress increased for those without pets and for those who did not bring their dogs to work.
- Increase productivity and promote creativity: Dogs remind us to get up and take breaks, and most of the time that means taking Fido for a walk outside. Research shows that walking, especially outdoors, can increase creative ideation in real time and shortly after, which have been shown to improve employee morale, productivity, and focus.
- Enhance socialization among co-workers: Pets can act as catalysts for human social interactions. In fact, just being in the presence of pets can increase the frequency of social interactions, especially with strangers, because they can be a conversation starter.
- Improve productivity: When employees with pets don’t have to worry about rushing home to their pets for bathroom or exercise breaks, they may be more likely to stay and enjoy office happy hours or other activities.
Creating A Pet-Friendly Workplace
It’s important to create a thorough policy for bringing pets to work, so Petco has developed some simple guidelines for pet-friendly workplaces. Employers should first consider their requirements such as vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and licensing and leashing, as well as setting clear guidelines and expectations for pet housing, such as pet gates, small habitats, and aquariums.
Other factors employers should address when rolling out pet-friendly policies include the following:
- Make sure there are readily accessible outdoor areas for pet breaks.
- Consider pet-free zones for employees with allergies.
- Consider investing in built-in or removable pet gates at employee workspaces to make containment safe and easy.
- Clear pet-accessible areas of any potentially dangerous items such as cables, human food, electronics, and furniture that could easily be knocked down.
- Keep toys, treats, and anything else pets may not want to share with other animals out of common areas.
- Consider providing pet clean-up stations for inevitable “accidents” around the office.
Click here for more tips on pet policies and the benefits of Pets @ Work.