February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day -- but let’s be real, pet parents show their pets love every day. In fact, coming home to their pets after work is one of the highlights of many peoples’ days. But what if it didn’t have to be like that?
For 8% of the workplaces in the U.S., employees don’t have to come home to their pets after work, since they’re by their side the whole day. The number of pet-friendly workplaces is up from 5% over the past three years, according to the Society for Human Resource Management -- and it’s expected to grow exponentially.
That’s because research recent research and employee experiences are showing that having a pet-friendly workplace is very beneficial. Here are the top 5 reasons employers should consider opening their workplaces to furry friends:
- Improving employee morale and collaboration
A Banfield study showed that about 90% of HR professionals agree that a pet-friendly workplace has improved morale. When pets are in the workplace, there tends to be more laughter and positive interactions. Think about it, have you ever seen anyone without a smile on their face when they see a picture of a cute dog or cat? It’s magnified more when it’s in person.
Pets also create the opportunity for people within the office to interact that might not have otherwise. In addition to expanding the social aspect of the employee experience, it can spark collaborative and cross-team efforts.
- Managing stress and improving health
Having a pet can improve overall health because of the physical activity required to care for a pet and the stress reduction they provide. The more time spent with your pet means the more of these benefits you get. Having a pet at work means the owner will take the pet for a walk and increase their physical activity.
Pets can help manage stress and improve mental health, too. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that feeling supported and like you are cared for is a key factor in returning to work or remaining employed when facing a mental illness. The unconditional love and support pets provide can do just that.
- Creating better work-life balance
The Banfield study mentioned earlier also found that almost 90% of HR professionals also saw an improvement in work-life balance within pet-friendly workplaces. Employees don’t have to worry about not being home for their pet and can focus on their tasks at hand knowing their pet is taken care of.
Pet-friendly workplaces let employees base their work schedule around work, not around needing to care for their pet. So if a certain project requires a later night at the office, that can happen rather than the employee having to leave to take care of their pet and return later.
- Saving employees and employers money
Making the workplace pet-friendly is also a money saving move for both employees and employers. The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative found that pets save their owners $11.7 billion annually because of the physical activity and stress reduction that comes with having a pet. These healthcare savings in turn will carry over to employers.
Employees also save money on day-to-day pet care, like daycare, dog walkers, or pet sitters. Small, everyday savings can add up to something big, like a family vacation or a new car.
- Attracting top talent
A pet-friendly workplace is an underutilized, yet attractive, benefit in recruiting top talent. Millennials especially are likely to choose a pet-friendly workplace over other benefits. Since upcoming generations are buying houses and starting families later than Gen X and Baby Boomers did, their pets are their primary family for most of their young adult lives.
If your workplace is pet-friendly, consider highlighting it in the beginning of the recruiting process. If it’s not, and you’re failing to attract the right talent, it may be a change to consider.
Protocol for a pet-friendly workplace
For a pet-friendly workplace to be successful, be sure to implement the proper protocol. Set guidelines around pet hygiene, behavior, vaccination records, and incident reports, and make sure pet owners sign a waiver to assume responsibility for their pets. Also be sure to take allergies into consideration, as to not make the workplace uncomfortable for anyone.