Pets in the Workplace Make Employees Happier and More Productive

Pets in the Workplace Make Employees Happier and More Productive

More companies appreciate the wider benefits of supporting employees to achieve a better work life balance and offer initiatives and programs to facilitate this goal. One innovative trend that’s been growing in popularity in recent years is companies allowing staff to bring their pets in to work.

While having animals around the office might seem a bit weird, studies consistently show that it can result in happier and more productive employees, with many other advantages for staff, employers and the pets themselves. Let’s look at what these benefits are and the best ways to successfully incorporate a pet-friendly policy into your work environment.

Why pets in the workplace are a great idea

Sure, most people love having cute animals around, however it turns out there are many powerful reasons to let employees bring their pets into work such as:

Reduced stress

Employees who bring their pets in to work experience an 11 per cent reduction in stress levels, while those forced to leave them at home have a 70 per cent increase in stress. Other studies prove that pets have calming effects, reduce blood pressure, lower stress, and make employees more cordial and productive. Furthermore, reduced stress means fewer stress-related ailments and the costs that accompany them.

Increased happiness

Staff report that having their pets with them helps them pass long work hours happily. Companies, like Etsy, also allow pets in the workplace to keep spirits high and add a little comic relief. Laughter and positivity is just as contagious as negativity and stress but come with added benefits like great morale and better communication.

Greater productivity and collaboration

Animals create a comfortable, flexible environment. Pets can also create camaraderie within the workplace and trigger interactions that may not have occurred without them. Better communication leads to more trust, a key component in a successful workplace. Trust and communication rival stress and promote productivity, causing improved morale and reduced absenteeism. According to studies, employees in pet-friendly workplaces have proven to be happier, more creative, friendly and cooperate better than non-pet offices. Central Michigan University found that employees at dog-friendly workplaces collaborated and trusted each other more. All of these things help create a more efficient, productive culture.

Better work/life balance

Spending too much time too close to a project, problem, or other work can inhibit productivity and cause unnecessary stress. Pets remind people to pause and step back from whatever they are involved in. Short walks, a little playtime, and temporary distractions allow mental breaks so as to avoid staff becoming overworked and stressed.

Healthier employees

Pets can now be identified as a proactive method of staying healthy and avoiding health issues, thus saving money on a personal, professional, governmental, and medical scale. It’s a low-cost wellness benefit.

Tips for introducing a ‘pets allowed’ policy at your company

Before you allow staff to bring pets into the workplace, it’s important to ensure procedures and rules are in place for everyone’s comfort and safety (including the animals). Suggested steps to take include:

Communicate with staff – Ask employees how they would feel about people bringing in pets, and work with staff to determine what kind of pets, how it will work and what kind of pets are welcome, how it will work and what considerations to be aware of. For all new employees, discuss the policy during the recruitment process to ensure everyone is aware.

Maintain good hygiene – Not only should employees be healthy at work to avoid spreading sickness, but pets should as well. Pets should be groomed, cleaned, as well as free of contagions and fleas or ticks. And confirm vaccinations are up to date.

Introduce new pets slowly – Pets need to be acclimated appropriately to new environments, especially when there are other pets and people involved. New environments can cause stress, which may lead to unusual or destructive behaviour.

Inform all employees of training and dietary needs – Employees have to respect and appreciate that their pet is not the only one in the workplace. They also need to understand just how well their pet is trained and what their dietary needs are. Some pets eat anything and as much as they can, leaving little to nothing for the less enthused pets. Respecting the workplace by training and observing pets can prevent any unforeseen issues.

Other considerations to take into account.

While the benefits of pets in the workplace are numerous, there are some obstacles that employers should be aware of:

Additional costs – Pet-proofing the office and other costs such as food, toys, treats, insurance and any miscellaneous accidental damage that naturally occurs when caring for pets can add up.

Pet and employee safety – Animals may misbehave and they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Awareness and a plan to handle these incidences should be prepared and taken seriously, including pets harming one another.

Avoiding distraction – It’s easy to become over-distracted by pets in the workplace and they could hinder productivity instead of promoting it.

Allergies to pets –Employers need to be sensitive to employees with animal allergies and the effects it may have on their workplace experience.

Dislike of animals – There will often be individuals who aren’t fond of pets or animals and don’t want them in the workplace.

The work environment – Some workplaces aren’t safe or hygienic for animals so designated areas may need to be established. Staff should also be made aware that they are responsible for cleaning up after their pet and ensuring they’re not a nuisance.


Other pet-friendly workplace initiatives

If allowing employees to bring their pets into work is too complicated or not an option for your business, there are other ways you can be an animal loving workplace. You may consider:

  • Offering staff one week’s paid pawternity leave to help settle in a new animal at home.
  • Including pet insurance cover in their salary package as an additional perk.
  • Giving employees flexibility, such as when their pet is sick or passes away, with working from home or having time off.
  • Aligning with animal rescue programs and permitting animals available for adoption into the office on occasion.
  • Having an office pet.

Thanks to University of Southern California, Workplace Law and Culture Amp for their information on pets in the workplace which helped write this article.